JPNC Public Service Committee approves licensing requests for bubble tea shop; Brendan Behan Pub

The Public Service Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met virtually on November 9, where members discussed two licensing matters: one at 3193 Washington St., and one at 378 Centre St.

3193 WASHINGTON ST. 

At 3193 Washington St., the proposal was for a Common Victualler 7-Day License with take-out for a bubble tea shop called Happy Lemon. Jason Liu will serve as the manager, and the store is proposed to be open from 11:00am to 9:30pm. 

Liu explained that Happy Lemon is a Taiwanese brand that “exploded in the Asian market” in 2009, and “expanded to the US market in 2013.” 

Liu is the owner of Happy Lemon Boston, and said that “Boston’s the area I’m responsible for developing.” He already owns a Happy Lemon location in the food court in Downtown Crossing, and said he believes Jamaica Plain is a great location for another store because of the “diversity of the people, schools, [and] professionals.”

Aside from different flavors of bubble tea, the shop will offer small snacks like Belgian waffles. Liu said that the kitchen vent will be on the rear of the building and is not near any windows of nearby apartments. 

He proposed 18 seats with tables inside the shop, but he said that when the store first opens, “we want to serve the community first,” and “takeout comes secondary.”

The Happy Lemon name will be on cups and takeout bags, he added, as that is a question the committee typically asks of food establishments who request a takeout license. 

“I love boba tea; I drink it a lot,” said committee member Robin Cheung. She asked if Happy Lemon’s cups and straws are going to be compostable, and whether or not plant-based milks will be offered.

Liu said that the shop exclusively uses Lactaid milk, which is a lactose free cow’s milk. He also said that the shops will “eventually” use more environmentally friendly materials, but right now plastic cups are used. 

“Unfortunately you might get some slack for that in JP,” Cheung said, who also asked about trash receptacles outside the store.

Liu said that there will be “plenty of garbage cans for customers.” Additionally, the menu will be in both English and Spanish, and there will also be a “Spanish speaker in every shift,” Liu said.

Resident Peter Favorito, who lives in the residential units above the commercial space at 3193 Washington St, said he is in “full support. I love bubble tea; I think it’s a great idea.”

Resident Lyndon Fuller said that he has done some research on Happy Lemon, and it “looks like a very successful franchise,” he said. He asked about the parking, especially when it comes to delivery drivers like Uber Eats and DoorDash. 

Liu said that they are going to apply for a temporary parking permit in front of the building for delivery drivers. 

Additionally, Liu said that Happy Lemon is looking to hire JP residents to work in the shop.

The committee ultimately voted to approve the application with the proviso that trash cans are installed outside for cups and bags and that Liu is responsible for keeping them clean. 

378 CENTRE ST.

At 378 Centre St., attorney Kristen Scanlon proposed to extend the current seasonal outdoor patio at the Brendan Behan Pub to be used year round.

Scanlon spoke of the pub’s owner, Michel Soltani, calling him a “longtime business and community leader in Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain.” She said that Soltani bought the business in 2007 and the building in 2013. 

“With the success of outdoor seating,” Scanlon said, “we’d like to be able to utilize the outdoor patio year round.”

There is no change to hours, capacity, or number of seats on the patio, nor is it an expansion of the restaurant. Scanlon made it clear that the only request is to continue using the existing patio all year long.

Soltani said that the patio is heated, and there is also no music played on the patio. 

While the pub does not have its own kitchen, Pikalo restaurant is right next door, and there is an indoor window in between the Brendan Behan and Pikalo so customers can purchase food to have with their drinks. 

The small patio in the front of the building will have to be removed in early December to comply with the city’s guidelines about outdoor dining on public property, Scanlon said, but the “patio in question here is on private property,” said Committee Chair Michael Reiskind.

Warren Williams, Executive Director of Three Squares Main Street, said that the organization is in support of the patio being used year round.

Lyndon Fuller said he is also in support, praising Soltani and saying “he’s an absolutely wonderful addition to the neighborhood.”

Dermot Doyne, owner of The Penguin in Mission Hill, said that he “can’t say enough good things about Michel. His business plan and his attitude to work is amazing.”

Olga Batyuk, a neighbor, said she enjoys the pati and supports it being used year round.

A concern was also raised about illegal parking near the pub. 

“I understand the concern,” Soltani said. “I’m not responsible for the behavior of other people who do not follow the rules.”

Williams said that “after talking to the other businesses and residents,” it was determined that “there are multiple restaurants and multiple businesses in the district that don’t have parking.” He said that Three Squares can reach out to the Boston Transportation Department and the police department “to see if they can ticket more or enforce the rules more. We cannot put that on the Brendan Behan.”

Williams added that there might be fewer issues with parking once the front outdoor patios are removed from the area. 

Fuller said “I see it every day. These cars…playing Russian roulette” when trying to get takeout orders.

The committee approved the request to use the patio year round.

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