The local dive bar has already served a two-day suspension in March, and currently has three impending suspensions remaining in 2015. Mary Ann’s will be closed from Sept. 21-23, and for a five-day period, as well as a one-day period, that have yet to be determined by the Boston Licensing Board.
“When you get cited time after time, and the reports are showing Boston College student, Boston College student, Boston College student, you have to do something about this,” said Thomas Keady, BC’s vice president of government and community relations.
The Boston Licensing Board has recently taken initiative to crack down on underage drinking across the city. For more than a century, the board that controls the liquor licenses in Boston had been appointed by the governor, but new legislation passed last year gave Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, increased authority to replace the entire Boston Licensing Board with a new attitude toward underage drinking. Under the previous administration, the board issued fewer citations, and, in many cases, bars could freely choose their own dates of suspension.
The new board has cited Mary Ann’s for overcrowding, service and sale to minors, minors in possession of alcohol on the premises, failure to maintain a line outside of the premise, and a bolted fire exit in the basement. The bar was also suspended for a total of six days in 2014 for serving alcohol to minors.
In response to a hearing with the Boston Licensing Board on April 7 over two citations of minors in possession of alcohol on the premises, Mary Ann’s announced the next day that it would tighten up its security on fraudulent and fake IDs. According to files from the Boston Licensing Board, Mary Ann’s attorney David Eisenstadt wrote to the board on April 8, announcing the start of the bar’s new identification policy: “Effective immediately, Maryanne’s [sic] will not accept out of state licenses as proof of age,” he said. “The establishment will only accept valid Massachusetts drivers’ licenses, passports or military IDs.”
Mary Ann’s purchased an updated license scanner in April in order to specifically target fake out-of-state id’s. Additionally, there is a new machine that takes photos to help identify bar goers. According to the City of Boston Licensing Board Docket Sheet, Mary Ann’s has not been cited for an official violation since April, though the bar is still awaiting its pending suspension dates.
“Underage drinking is a problem across the city,” Keady said. “People will go places where they think that they can be served, and unfortunately Mary Ann’s is one of those locations that has drawn a lot of attention.”
This past spring, local residents of the community, Boston police officers, BCPD officers, and BC officials all converged at a community meeting to discuss many of the concerns over the future of Mary Ann’s. Eva Webster was one of a handful of local residents that attended the hearing and described how many community members were very upset about what happens after the bar closes. According to the agreement with the Licensing Board, Mary Ann’s closes at 2 a.m. and all patrons must be out of the bar by 2:30 a.m. Webster voiced her concerns that people were flooding out of the bar and into the neighborhoods of Brighton, and local residents have seen multiple instances of public urination, loud noise, and fights breaking out well passed closing hour.
The future of the popular dive bar could be in jeopardy if the suspensions continue and local community members remain unhappy. Keady explained that if underage drinking keeps resurfacing at Mary Ann’s, there is a possibility that the bar could be closing earlier.
“They have to look at their 2 a.m. license,” he said. “If they keep doing what they are doing, they could roll it back.”
In a much worse scenario for the bar, Keady explained that if the citations escalate and 25 residents feel strongly enough to petition the Boston Licensing Board to suspend Mary Ann’s license permanently, the Board could act and take the initial steps to potentially end the bar’s longtime presence in Cleveland Circle.
“I think people are just fed up,” he said.
Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Editor