Stamatoses get liquor license approval, earful

January 11, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Public Service Committee voted Jan. 8 to approve the Stamatos family’s bid to acquire the liquor license for a business and property they recently purchased on Boylston Street.

Local grocer/sandwich purveyor City Feed and Supply was also approved by the committee for a common victuallar license for its new location on Centre Street.

The committee approved the liquor license transfer by a vote of 6-2, over objections about the proposed hours for the store and despite harsh words about the Stamatos family’s perceived disregard for community concerns.

Recent renovations of the liquor store at 78-80 Boylston St., and a new focus on selling wine and micro-brewed beer, were seen by many as major improvements at the location.

The previous liquor store at the location, Foerster’s Liquors, was described as a seedy, low-end establishment. The committee spent a few minutes debating whether it was a pit bull or a German shepherd dog had that been a constant vaguely threatening presence there.

Cam Wilson, a community member who testified in favor of the transfer, said she spends a good deal of time at her? daughter’s house directly behind the Boylston Street store. “I’ve been looking at the same broken window for 20 years and the same old sign for 20 years, and they’re gone,” she said.

Wilson also said she had been concerned about snow removal, but that the Stamatos family had taken exemplary care of their front walks through the recent spate of storms.

The family’s new liquor store, which is being run by Christos Stamatos, has been open for about two weeks. It is still officially under its former management, Christ Stamatos, another family member, told the committee.

In a Gazette interview, Christ Stamatos told the Gazette the new store, Stony Brook Wine and Spirits, opened between Christmas and New Year’s.

Committee member Jake Hart attempted to get Stamatos to agree not to allow anyone under 21 into the store and pushed for it to not be open on Sundays.

Foerster’s did not keep Sunday hours.

The Stamatoses proposed to stay open from noon to 11 p.m. on Sundays, but Hart said the Stony Brook liquor store would then be open later than other area stores, attracting potentially unsavory characters to the predominantly residential area.

“I don’t want you to be open on Sundays because it’s a neighborhood. There’s no reason for people to come into that neighborhood on a Sunday, especially until 11 p.m.” Hart said.

There was some confusion because, according to committee chair and JPNC member Michael Reiskind, the request to extend store hours was not on the license application. The committee approved Sunday hours from noon to 8 p.m. if necessary additions are made to the license application.

Both Christos and Christ Stamatos said they have a zero-tolerance policy for selling alcohol to minors, but they did not agree to bar them from the store.

JPNC member Carlos Icaza, who sits on the committee, had some more general complaints for Christ Stamatos about his stewardship of other JP properties.

Christ Stamatos also owns the building at 613-619 Centre St. That building was vacated after a 2006 fire, ruled an arson by Boston Fire Department officials. [See related article.]

“The condition of that building is a blight…Can we get some commitment from you to fix it?” Icaza asked.

Christ Stamatos said that he had been going through the community process to acquire permits to build a two-story structure on the site. [See related article.]

But Icaza recommended that in the interim Christ Stamatos could throw up a few pieces of plywood and get some kids to paint a mural on it.

While Christ Stamatos did not make any commitments at the meeting, he later told the Gazette he would look into getting some murals up.

“I don’t want to have a property that looks like that,” Stamatos told the Gazette.

Much of the building is already boarded up and some murals have been painted. But, reiterating concerns he expressed at the meeting, Christ Stamatos said he did not know if portions of the building worst affected by the fire would hold plywood.

“If it, in fact, can’t hold anything, it is a hazard to the neighborhood and needs to be torn down,” Icaza said at the meeting.

At the close of the meeting Reiskind said the JPNC had referred the 617-619 Centre St. property to the neighborhood’s Problem Properties Committee.

The Public Service Committee also unanimously approved an application by the proprietors of locally owned City Feed and Supply for a seven-day common victuallar, or food service, license for a second grocery store/café at the former Videosmith site at 672 Centre St on the corner of Seaverns Avenue.

The JPNC Public Service Committee is made up of both JPNC members and community members. Its license application decisions are advisory. They are generally adopted by the JPNC as a whole and placed on file with the city’s Licensing Board, where they carry significant weight in the board’s decisions to approve or deny licenses.