Lower Mills says yes to bid for a new tavern; Sweet Life gets okay for full liquor permit

Co-owner Kristin Ahern is shown inside Sweet Life Bakery and Cafe in a photo taken in 2012. Ahern won a unanimous approval from the Lower Mills Civic Association this week to seek a full liquor license and an expansion of its hours to include dinner service. 	Bill Forry photoCo-owner Kristin Ahern is shown inside Sweet Life Bakery and Cafe in a photo taken in 2012. Ahern won a unanimous approval from the Lower Mills Civic Association this week to seek a full liquor license and an expansion of its hours to include dinner service. Bill Forry photo

A partner behind the buzzed-about replacement for the Lower Mills Pub, partly backed by the Dropkick Murphy’s Ken Casey, revealed more details about his restaurant bid on Tuesday night, including a new name: The Lower Mills Tavern.

The location would seat 65 patrons and feature a stone hearth oven that would serve up “from-scratch comfort food” such as skillets, flatbreads pizzas, and burgers for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Brian O’Donnell told some 35 members of the Lower Mills Civic Association who had gathered in St. Gregory’s Auditorium.

The group was unanimous in approving the ownership change.

If O’Donnell and Casey get the okay from the city by the end of the month, they plan to spend the summer renovating the property to put in a kitchen, update the decor, and make it handicap accessible. They hope to open the new restaurant in September.

While initial plans included scheduling live music at the location, O’Donnell conceded that “live entertainment is very challenging in that space.”

“I think the best we can hope for is like acoustic Irish music or one-person acoustic sets,” he said.

O’Donnell parried a neighbor’s concerns about increased parking congestion in the area, saying the location is small and “really, we’re just targeting neighbors” as potential customers. “It’ll be affordable,” he added.

A few doors up from the pub on Dot Ave., Sweet Life Bakery and Cafe also got a unanimous stamp of approval from the association for its application for a full liquor license and an expansion of its hours to include dinner service.

While the full license would allow it, Kristin Ahern said the cafe, which she co-owns and manages, would not become a bar. “We will use the lunch counter as a place to drink with dinner, but it’s no bar. This isn’t a place where you come in to order martinis,” she told the group. Drinks would be available during all three meals, including breakfast.

Ahern is not planning any physical changes to the restaurant. “We would hire more people to handle the additional hours and we would be a bright light on the corner,” she said, adding the restaurant would close by 11 p.m. and dinner service would run just a couple of nights a week “to get a feel for what dinner is like.” She speculated those nights would be Thursday through Saturday or Sunday.

Should the city approve it, Sweet Life’s liquor license would be one of this year’s crop of neighborhood-specific licenses that cannot be sold and transferred out of Dorchester should the restaurant be bought out. Other Dorchester applicants for these licenses include Dot2Dot Cafe and Pho Le, both also on Dorchester Avenue.