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High-End Beer and Wine Shop Wins Approval of Neighborhood Group

The shop, which would be across the street from the Curley K-8 School, says it will sell only local beer and wine, not Budweiser or big business wine.

A high-end retailer of beer and wine that would be just steps from the moved closer to approval last week.

The of the JP Neighborhood Council voted last Tuesday to recommend that Streetcar Wine and Beer be allowed a package store license. The final decision is up to the city's License Board, though the downtown boards usually follow Neighborhood Council recommendations.

No one who came to the meeting spoke against the store, which would move into an empty, under-renovation store front at the corner of 488 Centre St. Two residents spoke in favor of the store, one of whom lives right next door. If approved, Cindy Conway's house would have a packie on one side and a church on the other.

"I think it will be great," said Conway.

At a previous meeting of a different neighborhood group, the Jamaica Pond Association had right across from the front doors of a middle and elementary school.

However, the Jamaica Pond Association last Monday voted not to oppose the store.

At Tuesday's Neighborhood Council committee meeting, Kingsboro Park resident Siobhan Clafin said that as a parent she had no concerns about the close proximity of a store selling alcohol.

"I'm excited about having a storefront that's open," Clafin said.

The owner of Streetcar Wine and Beer, Michael Dupuy, spoke to the small crowd which gathered last Tuesday at the Rogerson House. He said the store would not sell items that might attract children like candy or gum.

Dupuy said the 770-square-foot store would stock beers and wines from small producers only. Even Sam Adams, though technically considered a small producer, wouldn't be on his shelves, he said.

If all goes well with the rest of the permitting and building renovations, Dupuy said the shop could open as early as Thanksgiving. He said there are very few stores like it, though it would comparable to Central Bottle in Cambridge.

Dupuy would at least initially be the only worker at the store. Though he seeks a seven-day license, he plans to be closed Mondays and perhaps Sundays. The Neighborhood Council committee recommended opening hours of 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

James October 12, 2011 at 07:07 PM
On the one hand, it's a locally owned business. On the other, it's going to raise property values. Will Whose Beer protest?
Scott October 13, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Is it Patch or the owner that describes this business as "high-end?" Not a good selling point in the current economy. My immediate reaction to seeing that word is "I will never step through the front door."
Sean October 13, 2011 at 03:17 PM
I hear Whose Beer is already wining about this. Thankfully Colt 45, Michelob Ultra Light, Two Buck Chuck, Yellow Tail and other high-quality alcoholic beverages are readily available elsewhere.
Derek Whitaker October 13, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Scott, I think that 'high-end' here just means the absence of lowest-common-denominator products, not that everything will be expensive. It's entirely possible to have a shop filled with high-quality wines and beers at moderate prices. I know Mike, and he's not an idiot. Obviously, he understands the economic climate we're in and will offer reasonably-priced products. The beauty of the wine world is that a knowledgeable owner like Mike can offer better quality at any price point simply by choosing carefully the best wine for x amount of dollars. That's something that your typical grocery store or package store won't have the time or sophistication to do.
Theresa October 13, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Whose beer is whose? (Never heard of Whose Beer.) Where is it?
Theresa October 13, 2011 at 04:01 PM
I'm with Scott. For example, I stepped inside City Feed once, and once only. People kept staring at me as I laughed out loud at their prices. There's only one price point at City Feed: outlandish. Pop in there some time and pick up any box of crackers that catches your eye. Go ahead, I dare you. It will make you "crack" up. But I digress; more to the point, I have never been disappointed in the wines in the $5.99 bin at Blanchard's. I am the 99% in Jamaica Plain.
Michael Dupuy October 13, 2011 at 04:13 PM
I haven't ever used the words "high-end" or "posh" to describe the shop or its selection. Derek's right -- I'm not an idiot (thanks Derek!). I'll certainly carry wine and beer throughout the price spectrum. The reason for not carrying Budweiser, etc., is that I would rather carry small producers. Small vintners and brewers are more likely to stop by the store and interact with my customers one-on-one than the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, just as an example. The idea is to bridge the sometimes immense gap between producers and consumers, which should help people better understand what they are drinking. Would you like to ask Fred Franzia what goes into every batch of three buck chuck?
Jason October 13, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Sounds like the store is marketing to craft beer and wine drinkers, so what is wrong with that? If you prefer Coors and Bud, you have plenty of swill stores to choose from. It has nothing to do with pricing people out. Craft beer can be considered a 'cheap luxury' and this store will draw in people who value flavor rather than someone looking for the quickest way get hammered. I, and others who enjoy better beer, will look forward to the opening...
MRofJP October 13, 2011 at 04:39 PM
It's not about getting hammered. It's about being able to enjoy a beer once in a while and still pay the rent. I'm all for shopping local and small but JP is filled with people who have chosen mission over money and can't patronize "high-end" establishments. Last time I dined at Bella Luna I thought I was going to have to wash dishes to pay off my dinner. Glad to hear Michael clarify his goals and intent.
Scott October 13, 2011 at 05:00 PM
Michael - I'll plan to stop in, especially if you hold a beer and wine tasting event. When does the store open?
MRofJP October 13, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Yes, City Feed's prices are outlandish.
Michael Dupuy October 13, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Scott - I wish I knew! Still hoping for November or December but it could get pushed back until next year if the application approval gets delayed. Count on plenty of tasting opportunities.
john October 13, 2011 at 09:40 PM
I know Mike from when I worked in the industry for 12 years. He is extremely reputable and is a walking beer and wine encyclopedia. Very down to Earth and knows his stuff. JP is lucky to get him! Congrats and good luck!
john October 13, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Another note on the no-Bud thing......Budweiser distributors require you to buy 100+ cases at a time to even remotely get competitive pricing. Most liquor stores make $2 per case on Bud if they are lucky. A small beer/wine shop would never have the space to store it all and certainly can't pay the rent selling it. There are a billion better beers out there for just a little more $$$ than Bud. I'm sure Mike will have plenty of beer tastings.
Derek Whitaker October 13, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I can't comment on City Feed, never been there. But I have been to shops like the one Mike is opening. You can still find wine for very little money (though as it's not my store I can't promise $5.99) but the difference is that at $10 or at $8 per bottle what you get in this kind of store is a bottle from a smaller family winery rather than a bottle from a giant multinational conglomerate. If you're the 99% (and I fully support the movement), give your consumer dollars to people who are also the 99%, not to the giant corporate 1% like Yellowtail.
tucker walsh October 13, 2011 at 09:55 PM
this sounds excellent! love local craft beer. This sounds like a great place to stop by and talk beer, one of the great gifts from the Gods.
Ken Pope October 14, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Michael.. any chance you'll also stock beer making supplies? I know MANY JP-er's who would LOVE that.
John Sullivan October 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM
I would love to see a stock of beer making supplies as well.
Raphael October 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM
@ John Sullivan: amen brother! JP could use a brew-your-own supply shop. We have to trek far and wide to get our malt and hops. That could be a nice side niche for the shop Mr. Dupuy. Oh, and welcome!
Sean October 14, 2011 at 01:55 PM
FYI Whole Foods in Dedham has brew kits. Not a wide selection, but some.
James October 14, 2011 at 06:42 PM
@Sean: Well, then, if this store doesn't stock brewing supplies (and it should, and so should the package store on Boylston near the Stony Brook T now that I think about it), we should ask WF to stock them at the Hyde Square location when it opens.
Raphael October 14, 2011 at 06:53 PM
The problem is, Whole Foods in Dedham doesn't supply consumable brewing supplies, just bottles and jugs and stuff like that. As far as I know, they don't have different varieties of hops, or malted barleys, malt extracts, etc. Perhaps the Hyde Square Whole Foods will do just that, but I'd be surprised. It seems like a natural product array for a smaller, more tightly focused store like Mr. Dupuy's. Heck, he could make an arrangement with Sam Adams to buy some of their supplies! How's that for shop local?
Michael Dupuy October 14, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Gents, I would strongly consider carrying homebrew supplies if I had a bigger space. At 770 sq/ft, there's barely enough room for the amount of wine and beer that I want to carry. Maybe someday...
Raphael October 17, 2011 at 12:20 PM
Tough to argue with that logic, Michael. Regardless, welcome to the neighborhood and thanks for taking part in the dialogue.
Jack Weiland October 17, 2011 at 01:40 PM
Beer = good. Glad to have this opening. Best of luck, Michael!
Dave G October 18, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Are we in Massachusetts? Package stores cannot be built in close proximity to churches and schools. Why does quality of the product change anything? Can I open a pornographic book store at that location, if I promise to display high-quality stuff? To the Public Service Committee - How is not selling cheap beer and candy a persuasive argument? Do drunks only drink cheap beer? Are kids only attracted to package stores because they sell candy? Drunks don't drive BMWs? What about a drunk guy in a BMW searching for the package store right when school is getting out? The fact is, package stores attract all kinds of customers, good and bad. Given the options of new, vacant space just down the street in Hyde Square, it seems this proposal might find a better fit elsewhere. Shame on the Public Service Committee for not fully examining the potential problems associated with schools + package stores.
Chris Helms (Editor) October 18, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Hi Dave G, you bring up a good point I'd meant to put in the article -- when stores selling wine and beer want to open within 500 feet of a school, the Licensing Board has to determine if the store will have a negative effect on the "educational activities" of the school. I think Acapulco's and Tres Gatos, both of which sell alcohol, are within the 500 foot zone from the Curley.

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