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Ming Tsai: Small Restaurants Could Gain Competitive Advantage If Allowed to Serve Alcohol

Town officials are considering a change to local liquor regulations.

At a meeting last night, the Board of Selectmen discussed a possible change to Wellesley’s alcohol regulations to allow for restauarants with between 50 and 99 seats a liquor license. Currently, in Wellesley, restaurants must have 100 seats to qualify for a liquor license.

Ming Tsai, owner of , which seats about 130, argued at the meeting that small restaurants could gain a competitive advantage over large restaurants due to lower fixed costs if the regulation were to pass.

“They could sell the same steak for $18 with their one manager vs. my 11 salaried managers – that costs me $28 to sell,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how the food tastes at the end of the day, that is competition.”

Tsai said he is not opposed to small restaurants serving alcohol, as Needham, Natick and other surrounding communities allow small restaurants to get liquor licenses. Though, he said he would like a loosening of the bylaw, which requires patrons to order food if they order alcohol, for larger restaurants.

The board is looking into in an effort to generate new business – specifically to the Wellesley Square area, where over the last year.

Tsai said there have never been alcohol related problems in Wellesley, and it is unlikely a loosening of the law would lead to them.

“I don’t agree that it would cause a ruckus in Wellesley or lead to more DWIs or anything,” he said. “It will not create havoc, it will just create more revenue.”

For any changes to be made, new regulations would have to be put to a town vote after special legislation is written in Massachusetts General Court.

“I know I’m asking a lot here,” he said, “but it’s 2011, and no one predicted where the economy would be now. No one knows where we’ll be going in the next 10 years.”

Dennis Noonan February 11, 2012 at 08:47 PM
The old Wellesley Treadway Inn (almost across from Blue Ginger) was an exception; they had a pub (downstairs) and another saloon type room where a lot of locals went for a drink (not necessarily to eat) after work. I don't recall any terrible incidents. Prohibition doesn't work; it just sends a steady stream of Wellesley residents and workers across the borders to spend their money in Natick or Newton. And why can't they sell beer and wine at the supermarket like they do almost everywhere else?

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