Boston Questions Pizzeria License

Stone Hearth Pizza Co., a local family-style restaurant chain that recently leased a Harvard-owned property in Allston, may have received approval for a beer and wine license to which it was not entitled, according to some Allston residents and Boston officials .

After initially granting Stone Hearth’s application for a beer and wine license, the City of Boston Licensing Board is reconsidering its approval after Boston City Councilor Mark S. Ciommo informed the Board of a concern with the application.

Stone Hearth applied for a beer and wine license reserved for businesses in “urban renewal areas,” special zones that the Boston Redevelopment Authority designates in need of revitalization.

But according to a map on the BRA’s  website, the restaurant’s new location on 182 Western Ave. is not included in the nearby urban renewal area encompassing a public housing complex across the street.

BRA Spokesperson Jessica Shumaker confirmed in an e-mail that the Stone Hearth  is not located in an urban renewal zone.

Stone Hearth co-owner Jonathan Schwarz said that he and his partner, Christopher Robbins, had no intention of deceiving the Board if Ciommo’s concerns are true.

“There’s not something rotten in Denmark here,” said Schwarz. “If [applying for] this [urban renewal zone license] was a mistake, it was just a mistake.”

Allston Civic Association President Paul Berkeley said he alerted Ciommo to this discrepancy after reviewing the BRA map.

Ciommo then sent a letter to the Licensing Board requesting that it delay issuing the license until receiving confirmation from the BRA that 182 Western Ave. is in an urban renewal zone.

“After reviewing BRA Map 7B/7D it has come to my attention that this property may lie outside the boundaries of this district,” Ciommo wrote in his letter. “Pending [the BRA’s] evaluation, I respectfully request the Licensing Board hold the license until an adequate determination is made.”

In October, the Allston Civic Association recommended against Stone Hearth’s proposal to occupy 182 Western Ave. in an 8-6 vote that hinged on residents’ concerns regarding Stone Hearth’s plan to request a beer and wine license.

Several community members said that there was no need for a family restaurant to serve alcohol.

Harry Mattison, an Allston resident, said that had Harvard consulted residents before leasing the space, the current tension might have been avoided.

Harvard’s decision to lease to Stone Hearth, Mattison said, highlights the dearth of collaboration between the University and residents.

“Someone is sitting in Holyoke Center in Harvard Square and deciding what would be good for Allston,” said Mattison. “Instead of treating us this way, Harvard should sit down with the ACA and community members and talk about our neighborhood’s future.”

But University spokesperson Lauren Marshall emphasized Stone Hearth’s potential to reinvigorate Western Ave.

“Stone Hearth is the kind of vibrant, community facing locally-owned business that we’ve consistently heard the community wants,” Marshall wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.

Schwarz said that if Stone Hearth’s application is denied, he and Robbins will continue to seek a license as they prepare to open the restaurant.

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.

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