Capitalizing on MoCA or The Planning Board Knows Best
I missed this little item
last week. It seems the planning board, in all its wisdom, has stifled a big chunk of the upcoming restaurant and entertainment venue, The Alley's, plans:
The Alley, owned by Jack and Keith Nogueira, did not receive a full approval as a restaurant with weekend entertainment. The board opted to allow the restaurant to "get of the ground" with an approval of a restaurant with hours until 11 p.m. It requested the owners return when plans for entertainment were more solid.
"Do you define yourselves as a restaurant with entertainment or a nightclub with food?" Kyle Hanlon, board member, asked.
Keith Nogueira said the establishment would offer "table service" lunch during the day, with a pub-feel during the evening. He said entertainment and hours past 11 p.m. were needed to appeal to crowds flowing out of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on the weekends.
"Part of the problem with the entertainment end is that we'd rather be restrained by decibals, not by music type," he said. "We're not talking rock 'n roll or making a ruckus, but we don't want to be res-trained to an acoustic setting or jazz."
Board member William Schrade Jr. said he thought "pieces" of the entertainment plan, including a liquor license, were missing and that he supported the pair returning at a later date with more finalized plans.
Where to begin?
First off, it has to be noted that Keith Nogueira left his position in the performing arts department of Mass MoCA to open this restaurant. There is no one, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, in this city that has a better chance at exploiting the crowds departing shows and events at MoCA. To close him down just as things SHOULD BE getting hopping is just about the most asinine thing I've heard in a long time.
One thing that the article does not mention is that it granted The Hub, a place that claims simply to be a restaurant, a plan to stay open until 12 midnight. The Alley, a place that openly says it wants to have entertainment and serve late night food and drink.... 11pm.
Why the difference? According to a source, one board member even asked that same question but was met by silence.
I have heard time and time again that the planning board oversteps it bounds by meddling in actual business practices. It is one thing to make sure that a new or expanding business conforms to existing codes, laws and neighborhood norms, but it is wholly of another cloth to force those who are trying to help this city by investing equity and sweat to conform to some nebulous vision of what a business and our downtown should be. As far as late night downtown dining and entertainment goes, I believe the planning board is batting .000 in the past 5 years.
For the love-of-pete... get the hell out of the way.