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Boston’s liquor license problem – NBC Boston

Hundreds of liquor licenses could soon be added to the city of Boston, and it’s not just a matter of who gets to serve a drink — it’s a long-standing issue of equity and accessibility.

On the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Brunswick, Andre Williams is hard at work serving Jamaican specialties. The small business owner opened Cool Sade in 2022 and while he has built a robust customer base, an alcohol license would be a path to even bigger opportunities.

“An alcohol license would definitely attract more people and give us more business in the community,” Williams said.

But making that dream a reality is no easy task. Alcohol licenses are difficult to obtain, can become expensive, and often fail to reach areas of Boston with more diverse populations.

Representative Christopher Worrell wants to change that by championing 205 new licenses that would target specific neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plan and East Boston.

Worrell’s bill passed the House with the provision that these licenses would remain in the targeted communities.

“If you open a restaurant, get one of these liquor licenses and close it, it goes back to the city, but it stays within the zip code,” Worrell said.

The idea is encouraging for entrepreneurs like Andre, who hopes to claim one of those initial licenses and add even more Jamaican flair to his restaurant.

“We’re going to build a bar and have a licensed bartender,” Williams said. ‘We love mixed drinks. I’m from Jamaica, so we make a lot of mixed drinks.”

The bill must go through a number of steps before it becomes law, including passing out of the Senate, a signature from Governor Healey, and implementation by Boston City Hall.



A Seat at the Table is a conversation about equality for Black-owned businesses in Boston.