Bootleggers and Baptists

Baptists, Bootleggers, and Boston Restaurateurs Support Happy Hour Ban


Why would the owner of a bar or restaurant that serves booze support restrictions on alcohol sales? 

(a) they are concerned about drunk driving

(b) they are annoyed by drunk patrons, but don't like the hassle of throwing them out

(c) they want to squelch upstart competitors seeking to attract customers with drink special

(d) All of the above

Steve DiFillippo

Let's charitably assume the answer is (d). Perhaps restaurant mini-magnate Steve DiFillippo, who owns Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse and Avila in Boston, means it when he says:

"There's only one reason people go to happy hour, and that's to get drunk."

Similarly, Austin O'Connor Jr., CEO of Boston's Briar Group which owns City Bar, Ned Devine's, the Green Briar, the Harp, M.J. O'Connor's and Anthem Kitchen + Bar, is probably sincere it when he says:

"Happy hour is a very bad thing for our industry…Happy hour only encourages over-consumption." 

But sometimes the Baptists are also the bootleggers. Happy hours are a classic way for restaurants and bars to amp up the competition. And when you're already running a handful of the most well established restaurants in Boston, the last thing you wants is some jerk coming and and offering your customers a better deal, right?

happy hour

Thank god that they have the people who pay the cops on their side. For now, Happy Hours are mostly banned in Boston, but the comments above are from a series of hearings by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission aimed at reopening the discussion about loosening those laws. The fancy restaurateurs are not amused.

Oh, and none of this applies in Philadelphia, apparently, where (as astute Boston Herald commenters noted) Davio's has another location that seems quite proud of its awesome happy hour specials.

Via Keep Food Legal

The same sad story has been playing out in Connecticut, where small liquor store owners want to keep Blue Laws in place so that they can close early and have a day off on Sunday without worrying about the competition. UPDATE: Sunday sales are now legal, after a long fight.

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  1. A) Excellent alt-text
    B) Fuck this dude with rusty shovel.

  2. As a Bostonion, I’d like to inform Steve that the only reason I go to any bar is to get drunk.

    The three things I would change about this city are:

    1) Have the subway open past last call.
    2) Better (i.e. looser) gun laws.
    3) Allow happy hours.

    1. The fact that the T closes, and closes as early as it does, is the source of endless amusement to this former New Yorker.

      Except when I’m in Boston and want to go out drinking for the evening. Stupid T!

      1. It makes sense for the T to close considering the amount of traffic it would get at 4 AM on a Sunday, but that doesn’t mean it has to close before last call. My theory is that it’s a taxi lobby thing.

        1. Of course it’s a taxi lobby thing. And I was just joking about taking the T; I have money and would taxi both ways, unlike poor people such as yourself.

          “What a clever impersonation of a stupid poor person!”

          1. My problem is not being poor, it’s being ugly. I can’t seem to get taxis to stop for a well dressed drunk guy when there are tons of sluttily dressed hot girls around. Perhaps I should try just throwing money at them as they drive by?

            1. Maybe you should try having a sluttily dressed hot girl with you. It’s fun, give it a shot.

              1. When that’s the case we didn’t wait till closing time.

  3. This just cannot be. I have been assured that unlike the bucktoothed hillbillies in the unsophisticated South, Bostonians are neither racist nor do they support blue laws.

    1. I’ll be sure to mention this to my Boston expat friend at happy hour. Even so, she’s good people, having neither a true Bahstan accent nor a Masshole state of mind.

    2. The higher the opinion that city dwellers have of their own worldliness and sophistication, the more blinkered and provincial they actually are. See: Boston, New York, San Francisco.
      Chicago, not so much, but they still look down on the rest of the state.

      1. That is because the rest of the state is simple and hickish. This fact is proven by such evidence as the local commercials the cable companies inject in to national network programming.

        1. Some of us in the suburbs are neither simple nor hickish – at least we are not from such Godforsaken places like Effingham or Danville…now, if you will pardon me, I am off to have my monocle polished and verbally abuse the servants..

    3. This just cannot be. I have been assured that … Bostonians … do [not] support blue laws.

      It depends greatly on which Bostonians you are talking about. The guys from Southie who watch the Bruins have a bit of a different view on this than the lawyers in Newton.

    4. truth be told, the hillbillies don’t care about blue laws, either. They are all about profits; they even built NASCAR from bootlegging.

      Now, the hillbillies don’t want customers driving and drinking because the ensuing accidents would be bad for business. No sense killing off your own customers. They do encourage domestic consumption, however.

      1. Well, some of the hillbillies care about blue laws, they just don’t want them enforced, at least certainly not more than in a Dukes of Hazzard good ole’ boy kind of way.

        Remember, the difference between Baptists and [Methodists|Presbyterians|Catholics] in the South is that the Baptists don’t say hi to each other in the liquor store.

        1. I’m stealing that.

          My best Catholic friend kids me about being Methodist – he says I am just a Baptist who can read.

      2. Head on over to Kentucky some time. If you stop in at one of the liquor stores at the edge of a dry county, you will likely have a to-go cup with straw thrust into your hand.

        1. And not only are there a bunch of dry counties, but I’m pretty certain that dry counties result in people driving longer distances on alcohol.

  4. Cheers is for queers.

  5. The liberal do-gooder’s ultimate dream is within their grasp at last:

    banning happiness

    1. Happiness Progress, never the twegen be met.

      1. Thought they fixed the ampersand problem.

        1. someone else introduced the Y in lieu of ampersand, Spanish for “and.” It also shows solidarity with the Latino peoples and establishes multi-culti bona fides.

          1. I don’t know what to say. Thanks for the show of solidarity, everybody? You like us, you really, really like us? Thanks for all the white women?

    2. They’ll get there, one hour at a time.

    3. “You were only ever able to pursue it, no one said we had to let you catch it.”

  6. Happy hour is also illegal in Chicago. You can run drink specials all day, or not at all. Of course you can run food specials during certain hours, so we end up with a lot of “$1 sliders from 4-6!!”

    You are also free to make a campaign contribution in exchange for the enforcers not noticing your promotion.

    1. Wow, its almost like there are actually places worse than NYC. I find it hard to believe.

    2. There’s a brewpub chain with a location at State and Grand that used to give you a 20-oz. mug for the price of a 16-oz. beer if you were a member of their Mug Club (which was free to join). I was recently told that they had to discontinue the practice because it’s illegal to give away free beer in Illinois and somebody ratted them out to the Liquor Control Commission. Thank God somebody’s protecting me from the scourge that is four ounces of free beer.

      1. Rock Bottom.

        Their head brewer at that location was awesome (his replacement may be too, haven’t been back since he left). They had to brew the mostly-crappy national brews, but then he seems to have had a free hand on the other 6-8 taps.

        He opened Haymarket Brewpub on Randolph last year and now he’s got all the taps full of great stuff.

        1. Actually, Pete’s replacement just left for Pittsburgh and the new head brewer (who took over just a couple weeks ago, I believe) was Pete’s assistant when he left to open Haymarket. Davin’s a great brewer–he was most recently head brewer at Rock Bottom’s Warrenville location, I believe–so it’s worth heading back in the near future.

          As for Haymarket, you are correct that it’s great stuff… I’ve already been there twice this week!

          1. Thanks, good to know!

            I’m knocking off work now to head to Map Room – cheers!

    3. I’ve seen “Happy hours” with food specials around Boston too.

  7. I for one am pleased.

    As a New Yorker, anything allowing me to remind the world, “BOSTON SUCKS!” is always a good thing.

    But seriously, WTF. I would think the public sector workers unions would be like… ho ho hold the fuck up, city council! WE WANTS OUR CHEAP DRINKIN!

    1. Why is it I can hear that in a perfect Bahstan accent, and even see the guy in work coveralls saying it… nicely played.

    2. As a New Yorker, anything allowing me to remind the world, “BOSTON SUCKS!” is always a good thing.

      I overall love living here (and don’t understand why anyone would choose to live in NYC. I’ve hated it since years before I moved here), but I would think right now the Sox are all you would need.

      1. don’t understand why anyone would choose to live in NYC

        principally because it doesn’t suck as much as bahzstan. And the trains run all night. And you can give away all the alcohol you want. Cops may be crooked, but they’re generally not *complete* dicks.

        Also, accidents of birth family.

        And there’s also that giant wall built around the island, and the landmined bridges to keep us from escaping.

        1. Also: fuck the new H+R posting format that elides the ‘ampersand’…

          (there’s actually like 20 there! you can’t see thems! fear the invisible-ampersands…)

        2. principally because it doesn’t suck as much as bahzstan

          It sucks more than any place I’ve ever been. I visited when I was like 8 and went “This? This is what everyone is raving about?”

          And you can give away all the alcohol you want.

          But not soda!

          And there’s also that giant wall built around the island, and the landmined bridges to keep us from escaping.

          Come now, be reasonable. Gothom is only partially based on New York. It’s also got some Chicago and Pittsburgh thrown in.

          1. Auric Demonocles| 8.24.12 @ 2:50PM |#
            I visited when I was like 8 and went “This? This is what everyone is raving about?”

            I can see that, Disneyland being the likely benchmark.

            The soda thing never made it out of committee

            and lastly, the reference was Escape From New York…not Batman

            And to repeat- I don’t need to say NYC is *great* or even *good*….

            …It’s just that its better than @*(#$ Boston. Thanks for playing!

  8. where small liquor store owners want to keep Blue Laws in place so that they can close early and have a day off on Sunday without worrying about the competition

    Yep. You should hear how the beer distributors in PA bitched when the legislature allowed them to open on Sunday.

    PA’s liquor laws were enacted by an anti-booze governor and are kept in place by Democratic politicians covered in union and industry pocket lint.

  9. Illegal happy hour is just the craziest fucking thing I have heard in a while. I had no idea such a thing existed.

  10. At least Belgian Beer Fests aren’t banned. Yet.

    Anybody here besides me going? Tickets are currently sold out. Can’t wait to storm the Brasserie de Rochefort booth!

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