Metro, Business, Top Story, Boston

Cityside Hit With Sanctions As Boston Punishes Local Bars

Cityside Bar in Brighton was suspended for three days last week, as the City of Boston continues to crack down on underage drinking and related bar violations across Greater Boston.

The local bar has been suspended for a total of 18 days since 2012, with a number of citations related to overcrowding, underage drinking, and minors in possession of alcohol on the premises, according to documents from the Boston Licensing Board.

A representative from Cityside who wished to remain anonymous confirmed the suspension, explaining that the bar has complied with the punishments and is doing its best to improve its assessment of fake and fraudulent IDs.

Last week was the first time Cityside has been suspended this year, but the bar was forced to revoke its license for six days in 2014, seven days in 2013, two days in 2012, and a number of other instances since 1980, according to the documents.

Cityside has been cited a number of times for overcrowding, but a new measure passed by the Boston Licensing Board in April gave the bar increased capacity to hold an extra 45 customers.

For years, the City’s Inspectional Services Department permitted the bar to host 240 patrons—140 on the first floor and an additional 100 upstairs—but the Licensing Board only allowed 195 customers to be at the bar at any given time, which a Cityside representative believes attributed to a majority of the previous suspensions.

Data from Boston Licensing Board documents.

The City of Boston has recently adopted a new attitude toward underage drinking. Since 1906, the governor had appointed the organization that manages the liquor licenses in Boston, but a law passed last year gave Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, increased authority to replace the entire Boston Licensing Board appointed by former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Walsh appointed his own board with a new focus on addressing underage drinking and bar safety across the city. Under the Patrick administration, the board issued fewer citations, and often bars could freely choose their own dates of suspension.

RELATED: City Cracks Down On Mary Ann’s For Underage Drinking

The new board has also zeroed in on other Cleveland Circle bars over the past two years. Mary Ann’s was suspended for three days in September, and is currently awaiting two suspensions that have yet to be determined by the City’s Licensing Board. The local dive bar was cited for overcrowding, service and sale to minors, minors in possession of alcohol on the premises, and a bolted fire exit in the basement.

Agoro’s Pizza Bar and Grill—which will soon take over the space currently occupied by Roggie’s on Chestnut Hill Ave.—is also working with the Licensing Board to get a liquor license that would allow the restaurant to serve alcohol to customers until 1 a.m.

Looking to the future, if local bars continue to be suspended for these types of violations, there is a possibility that the Licensing Board could roll back their hours, Boston College’s vice president of government and community relations Tom Keady said in an interview with The Heights in September.

Or, in a far more serious scenario, Keady explained that if a passionate group of 25 or more local residents petition the board to take additional action against a specific bar, the City could take the initial steps to close the bars permanently.

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

October 15, 2015

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