Whole Foods Market has gone over the head of a local advisory group, straight to City Hall to seek permission to add seating to its Hyde Square store.
The city's Licensing Board will hear the matter on Wednesday, June 13 at 10 a.m. in Room 809A of .
The grocer plans to add 22 indoor seats and 16 outdoor seats where customers can eat prepared foods they've bought at the store.
A local advisory group, the , at first , citing potential competition with locally-owned restaurants from the national chain grocer. However, the board because it did not think Whole Foods had made a formal application to the city. Now that the application has been made, it isn't clear if the Neighborhood Council will offer a new recommendation.
The Neighborhood Council holds no formal power, though downtown boards like the Licensing Board often go by their recommendations.
Whole Foods came to the Neighborhood Council's Public Service Committee in early April, but the committee , deadlocking on a 4-4 vote.
In bureaucratic terms, Whole Foods must gain a "common victualer" license from the city in order to add tables and serve food. It is common for Whole Foods Markets across the nation to offer this service.
Whole Foods said overwhelming customer demand drove their decision to add seating, citing a petition that rapidly drew 1,000 signatures. Critics have charged that the grocer planned to have seating from the first, but did not seek permission before opening so that they would not have to go through the accompanying public process.
Persons who cannot may still weigh in, according to resident Rich Parritz. Resident's opinions may be faxed to the city at 617-635-4742 or mailed to: Licensing Board, 1 City Hall Plaza RM 809, Boston MA 02201.