December 19, 2019
The Licensing Board last Thursday voted unanimously to deny a common victualler license for a Popeyes’ restaurant in Codman Square— effectively rejecting the fried-chicken chain’s latest bid to overcome pockets of neighborhood resistance that has blocked its opening since 2016.
The application for the license was denied “with prejudice,” a ruling that means that the restaurant chain will have to wait a year before filing another request before the board.
A day after the decision was made, board chairwoman Kathleen Joyce told the Reporter that she and other members were persuaded by testimony from residents opposed to the chain that Popeye’s has an “unhealthy menu.”
“The board is responsible for ensuring the public health of our license premises and we found that here was significant and pervasive opposition to it,” Joyce said. “While there was support, I didn’t find it very persuasive.”
Opponents have noted that there is both a KFC and McDonald’s in close proximity to the proposed Popeye’s location.
“We felt like that corridor was adequately served with this type of license,” Joyce said. “Those are the three things that we look at when we decide to grant a license. It wasn’t any one reason more than the other, any one would be enough for us. We have the discretion to do so.”
The eatery has been attempting to open for business at the corner of Kenwood Street for four years. In 2016, the Zoning Board of Appeal denied the chain a permit due to similar resistance from neighbors.
Rather than re-apply for a new permit, the company successfully appealed the board’s decision in Suffolk Superior Court, arguing that it was merely modifying an existing restaurant space, which would not require zoning approval.
Brian Haney, an attorney for Popeyes, said last month that the chain has spent more than $1 million to cover construction costs and nearly $150,000 in rent, taxes, and maintenance since 2017. On Tuesday, Haney said: “We are extremely disappointed in the Licensing Board’s denial of our Application. We do not believe that the Licensing Board properly took into account the hundreds of residents of Codman Square and the surrounding neighborhoods who voiced their strong support for Popeyes to open, employ residents from the community, engage with the community, and serve the community for years to come.
Haney added: “We are considering all legal options at this point but we continue to believe that Codman Square is a tremendous neighborhood ...and that the people that live and work there deserved a better outcome than has occurred.”