Liquor Licenses Prove Critical for Local Restaurants

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“The general rule of thumb is that if they don't serve alcohol, they won't survive,” Kuelzer said.


Though liquor licensing can provide a boost to revenue, many businesses still yield a profit without a liquor license.

Felipe’s Taqueria, for example, operated without a license to distribute alcohol at its former Mt. Auburn location for almost a decade.

Yet even that popular vendor has succumbed to the need for a license. The restaurant announced plans to move to a new location and to seek a liquor license last October.

Although the owners have already begun the process of transferring  business to 21 Brattle St., they are unsure when they would receive a license any time soon. According to co-owner Tom Brush, the application process has taken longer than expected. He now plans to open the new location without a license.

Yet Brush said he was unconcerned.

“While we would love to open with a beer and wine license, it’s unlikely that we will,” Brush said. “Felipe’s has always been about the food and we’re not concerned about operating and opening without a liquor license.”

Jillson agreed that a liquor license is sometimes unnecessary and pointed to a wide range of flourishing eateries without licences in Harvard Square.

According to Jillson, some establishments simply do not require alcohol sales to bolster their business model. She also noted that some fast food restaurants, such as Flat Patties and Pinocchio’s, do not offer an environment conducive to serving alcohol.

Nevertheless, Jillson reaffirmed the importance of a liquor license for restaurants, which offer a more traditional setting.

“If their vision includes sitting down and having a nice meal and a glass of wine or cold beer as part of that experience, then yes, [a license] is absolutely critical,” Jillson said.

—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.

—Staff writer Celeste M. Mendoza can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CelesteMMendoza.


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