New owners of Lower Mills Pub take advantage of new liquor-license law to propose South End bar

The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday whether to let the new owners of a bar in Dorchester Lower Mills transfer their liquor license to the bar they want to open in the South End's new Ink Block complex - and then whether to grant them a new "neighborhood" liquor license for the Lower Mills location.

The move makes the South End bar possible by saving the owners the $300,000 or so it would otherwise cost to buy a full liquor license on the open market.

If the board approves both requests, the newly renamed Lower Mills Tavern would get a full liquor license that, unlike other liquor licenses, it could not resell and that would go back into a pool designated for the neighborhood should it close.

A state law that went into effect in 2014 has meant 50 of these new restricted liquor licenses for Boston - with another 25 to come this fall - as a way to encourage food entrepreneurs to start up restaurants, bars and liquor stores in areas that had seen their liquor licenses snapped up by well funded chains in areas such as the South Boston Waterfront and downtown.

The focus of the law - first proposed by at-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley - was Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury, although the licenses are also available in "Main Street" districts in other neighborhoods outside Boston Proper.

At hearing's today, one of the new owners of the former Lower Mills Pub, Brian O'Donnell, said the new Scofflaw in the Ink Block complex would be a small cocktail bar and restaurant that would cater primarily to complex residents.

His attorney, Dennis Quilty, said the "public need" for an establishment there is that the once dormant area hard by the Expressway is now seeing "hundreds, if not thousands of new residents," who would like more eating and drinking options.

Both proposals were supported by the mayor's office and the offices of at-large City Councilors Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty. City Councilor Bill Linehan's office supported the Scofflaw request; City Councilor Frank Baker supported the Lower Mills request.


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