Citing the restaurant’s more than two decades of exemplary service to the neighborhood, the Beacon Hill Civic Association Zoning and Licensing Committee voted Wednesday to not oppose an application allowing Antonio’s Cucina Italiano to secure a full liquor license.
The Cambridge Street restaurant has held a license for beer, wine and cordials for most of its time in business, and now seeks to upgrade to an “all alcoholic beverages” license as part of a new city initiative that will issue five new unrestricted liquor licenses over each of the next three years.
“To be successful in the future, the restaurant needs a full liquor license,” said attorney Daniel Toscano. “Adding this service will keep [restaurant owner Steven Colarusso] in business and keep him successful for the next 22 years.”
The committee’s decision stands in contrast to its long-standing policy of opposing the transfer or expansion of liquor licenses in the neighborhood, which has traditionally been capped at 15.
“The issue is when you draw the line, do you have to stay with the line,” committee chair Tom Clemens said. “A restaurant with a liquor license that shifts to a bar is the main concern here.”
Jeanette Herman, a committee member and Russell Street resident, expressed concern that making an exception for Antonio’s would set the precedent for issuing additional liquor licenses throughout the neighborhood.
If granted a full liquor license, Colarusso said he has no plans to extend Antonio’s hours past its current midnight closing time, or to add a bar to the existing restaurant. Alcohol would also only be served in conjunction with food.
Colarusso agreed to hand over his existing liquor license to the city if granted him a full one, rather than resell it to another restaurant for profit.
A Cambridge Street landlord and several neighbors spoke in support of the applicant, lauding Antonio’s as a model business operating on Beacon Hill.
Meanwhile, the city’s licensing board is scheduled to hear Antonio’s application for a full liquor license on Feb. 10. It wasn’t clear at press time, however, which other restaurants are applying for the new unrestricted liquor licenses and what the city’s selection process entails.