Bootleggers and Baptists

Baptists, Bootleggers, and Boston Restaurateurs Support Happy Hour Ban

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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.