Broken liquor license system shortchanges minority-owned restaurants, study finds

The 2014 law, which created 70 new liquor licenses for Boston, was meant to boost struggling neighborhoods and help restaurateurs of color build wealth, but the city's licensing process still favors the white, the wealthy, and the well-connected, a Globe analysis found. State data indicates that most of the new licenses wound up in higher-income, majority-white neighborhoods, like the Back Bay. In March, a bill was filed on Beacon Hill that aims to correct this by creating 250 new licenses for Boston, specifically for communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Reporter Derrick Jackson spoke to state Representative Dan Cullinane, a sponsor of the bill, and Kelly Mazile, the owner of Divine Merci in Mattapan, which has been hurt by the lack of licenses.

Since the 2014 law only created a small number of new licenses and required most of them to stay in the same neighborhood, it has been difficult for Mattapan to get a license. Reporter Shannon Doolittle spoke to Marie Dessain, the owner of Divine Merci, who said that not having a license has hurt her restaurant's business.

The bill filed on Beacon Hill, H1194, would create 250 new liquor licenses for Boston in an effort to correct this and reduce the racial and economic disparities in the city's licensing process. Reporter Emily Schurminski spoke to state Representative Andy Vargas, a sponsor of the bill, who emphasized the positive effects that this would have for communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.

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