Highlights: discussion of billboard removal continues, new Chinese restaurant for 23 S. Huntington and the Old Stag Tavern could become Coco's Lounge.
The Public Service Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council met Tuesday night at the Astra Zeneca House at 125 S. Huntington Ave. The meeting, normally scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month was rescheduled due to the Nov. 2 elections.
Among the highlights was a discussion of getting rid of billboards in JP.
Chairman Michael Reiskind said that the committee is patiently and methodically reaching out to landlords to voluntarily remove billboards. Reiskind indicated that the suggestion has been received by the landlords with some measure of interest and cooperation in most cases, but that the process is slow.
Ever the historian, Reiskind added that all of Jamaica Plain's billboards are owned or managed by Clear Channel, the successor company to Donnelly Advertising which was a well connected politically savvy organization formerly owned by the son-in-law of the legendary mayor and governor, James Michael Curley.
Committee member Karley Ausiello pointed out that many of the billboards were being used to advertise area non-profits which perhaps indicates that the Clear Channel incentive to maintain the billboards was not significant because billboard companies frequently donate their less profitable sites to non-profit organizations. The possibility of incentivizing Clear Channel to take down their sites by trading for fewer but more profitable sites elsewhere was also raised and a specific incidence of just such a trade that took place in Brighton about a year ago was cited.
"Wok N Talk"
Reiskind and Ausiello were the only two members of the committee present along with five neighborhood residents and two businessmen who were seeking neighborhood approval for their licensing petition to open "Wok N Talk", a 97 seat "fast casual, Chinese, Asian fusion restaurant." Business partners Nathan Long and Richard Pan have leased the building at 23 South Huntington and with detailed architectural drawings and preliminary approval from the Boston Inspectional Services Health Department already in hand, the two men intend to go before the Boston Licensing Board aiming for a February opening. The Licensing Board seeks non-binding input from area groups when making their decision. Mission Hill Main Streets and the Back of the Hill associations have both given their approval to the project.
Long and Pan made the case that the location is a visual gateway to Boston and the area deserved a brightly lit storefront, as well as a clean and welcoming place to do justice to the neighborhood. They proposed a 6 am opening and a 3 am closing. Combined, the men have more than 14 years experience in restaurant management, primarily with Panda Express. Long said that an "owner will always be on premises." They have signed a 10-year lease.
Four residents from 10 Jamaicaway, an apartment building that abuts the South Huntington site were there to express their concerns. Walter Gadecki, while expressing enthusiasm for the project, asked the two men if they had thought about the noise that they would generate and Hope Englemann added concerns about the possibility that drinking would become a problem. The two men responded that they would not serve alcohol of any kind and that they had no plans to pursue an alcoholic beverages or beer and wine license. Noise issues would be minimized by the restaurant accepting deliveries and getting trash picked up only during normal daytime business hours. Parking and loose trash were also raised as concerns, and the men assured the group that they would manage their 22-space parking lot to best keep cars from double parking on South Huntington, and provide and maintain their own trash barrel on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
After a lengthy discussion and thorough questioning of the men, the committee voted to recommend approval to the Licensing Board with the following provisos:
- Closing should be at 2 am instead of the proposed 3 am
- Three months after opening, the men should meet again with the committee to discuss problems that may have developed and to field additional suggestions for improvement
- A privately provided and maintained sidewalk trashcan should be installed by "Wok N Talk"
- All grates currently on the site should be removed and no new ones installed
- "Wok N Talk" logos should be printed or stamped on their paper bags
- All necessary licenses or variances required for operating a takeout business should be obtained
UPDATE: On Dec. 9, the Boston Licensing Board approved the restaurant to open with a 2 am closing time, according to Universal Hub.
Old and Ongoing Business
A quick review of other recent licensing issues followed including indication that neighborhood residents in the vicinity of 3169-3171 Washington St. were generally in favor of the transfer of the license of the Old Stag Tavern to Tropical Venturess, LLC for their creation of Coco's Lounge, a restaurant to be operated by Jose de la Rosa and Leoni Pascasio.
Owners at the site of the former A&M Jewelry Repair Shop will apply for a license to operate a fortune teller's business.
The next monthly meeting of the JPNC Public Service Committee will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 7 in Egleston Square.