Elected officials give their okay to a license for Kriola

Offering apologies for an impassioned and protracted neighborhood dispute over liquor licensing, the owners of the Kriola restaurant in Uphams Corner secured the support of elected officials Tuesday night and pledged greater involvement with community leaders going forward.

The owners are seeking a neighborhood-restricted affordable beer and wine license.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Hancock Street Civic Association, ownership team member Gabriel Livramento said, “I would like to apologize to every single one of you.” He added that the experience of trying to establish Kriola has been “emotional,” and that he was “looking forward to building a strong relationship with you.”

The restaurant’s management team, Capital Green Corporation (CGC), says its members have sunk $70,000 of their own money into opening the bar and restaurant at 33 Hancock St., which they pitched as a family-friendly Cape Verdean eatery. Previous businesses at the corner of Hancock Street and Payson Avenue have experienced troubling times, including a double-homicide in 2009 at the Ka-Carlos.

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, state Rep. Evandro Carvalho, and City Councillor Frank Baker all said they would support Kriola’s application for a license. The owners should not be held to account for the prior owners’ management, they said. “I think it’s important to say, these folks have opened up,” Forry said. “They cannot survive without a beer and wine license.”

Dorchester attorney Charlie Tevnan, who began representing the Kriola team about six weeks ago, noted that the process has had its “stops and starts.”

Although the owners initially pitched a beer and wine license for their eatery, a proposal that received tepid conditional consideration from abutters, they later applied for an all-alcohol license. It was a matter of natural growth, Livramento told the Reporter at the time.

One community group, the Jones Hill Civic Association, voted in favor of the beer and wine license but against the all-alcoholic license. The Hancock Street civic has consistently opposed a permit, asserting that it has been deliberately misled by the owners of Kriola, citing inconsistent communication with abutters, personal attacks on those who oppose the license, and failure to follow through with exterior improvements.

A one-time license granted for a party out of the restaurant in September resulted in loud music playing until the early hours of Sunday morning, with those leaving the restaurant remaining noisily congregated outside, according to neighbors.

C-11 Captain Tim Connolly said the police received no complaint calls on the night of the party. The man to whom the space was donated, for a birthday party, seemed “like a good guy,” Connolly said.

Awaiting the release of a batch of restricted liquor licenses, the Kriola team submitted, withdrew, and resubmitted an application for a beer and wine license in August and September. Interactions with a number of the Hancock Street civic groups members became increasingly heated on the part of proponents.

A raucous abutters meeting in late September, packed with dozens from beyond the immediate neighborhood backing Kriola, crystallized the civic group’s position and prompted the apology Tuesday night.

CGC pledged to attend neighborhood meetings, work to set up a crime watch for the area, keep closing times at 11 p.m., and monitor potential parking gridlock on Payson Avenue, which one civic member said has been a disaster whenever a business occupied the corner.

Sen. Forry said she and her office staff, who had met and spoken with all parties at length, would be paying close attention to the restaurant and neighborhood relations. “We’ll work toward making sure there’s no animosity and no tension,” she said.

An executive board vote following the Tuesday night meeting produced only one member in favor of the license, with the rest remaining opposed. President Marti Glynn abstained from the vote, a standard practice except in the case of a tie. The group had already submitted a letter of opposition to any alcoholic license to the licensing board.

The Mayor’s office and Frank Baker’s office spoke in support of the petition at the licensing board hearing on Wednesday morning, with no one speaking in opposition. The board is expected to vote on the first several rounds of licenses today (Thursday).