Baker objects to liquor license for South Bay Wahlburgers because it won't open for at least a year

City Councilor Frank Baker has nothing against the proposed Wahlburgers proposed for the new South Bay Town Center, but he formally opposed its request for a new liquor license this week because granting it one would be unfair to other restaurants that could use one of the city's scarce liquor licenses sooner.

An aide to Baker raised the objection at a Boston Licensing Board hearing on Wednesday after chain attorney Stephen Miller told the board it would be at least a year from now before the newest Wahlburgers could open.

The burger chain, bankrolled by the Wahlberg family and run by Paul Walhberg, is requesting one of the 20 neighborhood-specific all-alcohol licenses the board got the right to issue on Sept. 1, for its proposed burger joint with 255 seats - 102 of them in an outdoor patio. The board will not take any action for at least a couple of weeks, so that it can hear from other applicants for the licenses.

The intent of the legislation that gave Boston more liquor licenses was to help restaurant entrepreneurs get a start in a city where regular liquor licenses routinely go for $300,000 and up, not for chains, but the law only specifies neighborhoods, not start-up status, so the proposed Wahlburgers would qualify, since it would be in Dorchester, one of three neighborhoods specifically named by the legislature.

Unlike regular licenses, which the board has five of to award, the neighborhood-specific ones cannot be resold - if the owner goes out of business or retires, he or she has to give it back to the board.

As Paul Wahlberg listened, Miller said the family "Is just looking forward to coming home, to move into Dorchester."

Miller added the chain would have no objections to a request from the mayor's office to set a midnight closing time, rather than the 2 a.m. it had requested.

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