Chamber News

August 18, 2020 Likes Comments

Newton councilors ask liquor commission to cut fees

In a show of support for our local restaurants, 17 City Councilors are asking the Newton Licensing Commission to temporarily cut liquor license fees tonight.

“We are concerned about the struggling Newton restaurants,” the councilors wrote in a letter to the commission. “Our villages are made vibrant through the many eating establishments in our city and we know that losing them would reduce the reasons that bring residents to our villages.”
 
The effort is being lead by City Council President Susan Albright who is seeking a 50 percent cut in 2021 fees. She says the idea came from Needham, which recently sliced fees in half as a way to contribute to their restaurants' financial stability.
 
“In January 2020 [Newton] restaurants paid the full fee for an alcohol license, $3250 for full alcohol and $2250 for [a beer/wine license],” Albright wrote in a separate memo.
 
“As it turned out restaurants were shut down in March, they were allowed to open outside in early June and implementation didn’t really occur until late June/early July in Newton.
 
"While restaurants paid for a full year license, they were prevented from sales for nearly five months of the year. Even now they are only allowed 25 percent occupancy for indoors dining and outside seating is limited (with some notable exceptions) to a few tables on the sidewalk and for some in the parking lane.”
 
The commission will consider the fee cut request tonight (Tuesday) at 7:15 p.m.
 
Please take a minute this morning to email the commission at licensing@newtonma.gov. Ask them to temporarily cut next year's fees.
 
Shed a tear for Stellina
 
We've lost another restaurant.
Stellina Restaurant, an institution in Watertown Square for more than three decades will serve its last Chicken Marsala on Saturday, Watertown News and Boston Restaurant Talk reports.
 
“For over 34 years, Stellina has been a staple and pioneer of Watertown’s now-burgeoning restaurant scene. Frank and Ginnie Curcio’s cooking and hospitality, respectively, have garnered a long-time fan base that shows no sign of slowing down,” reads a note on Stellina’s website.
 
Until, of course, the pandemic hit.
 
"The reasons we are closing will come as no surprise to anyone: the persistent presence of COVID-19 and the limited seating required to keep people safely distanced make operating Stellina untenable."
 
The hygienist will see your office now
 
It used to be about smoothie machines, ping pong tables and concierge services.
 
But now commercial property owners across the nation are hiring for positions such as “experience ambassadors,” hygienists and even an on-staff medical doctor to help make returning to the coronavirus-era workplace feel as safe and seamless as possible for companies, Costar reports.
 
“Building health, hygiene and other reopening issues have been among the hottest topics on recent corporate conference calls. Executives for publicly traded real estate investment trusts and other companies that typically focus on quarterly financial performance are now addressing such questions as how many people at a time can safely ride an elevator,” the article notes.
 
What the fall looks like for our retailers
 
Back in April, when the COVID shut down had just begun, we assembled a panel of local merchants and asked them to talk about survival and the future of retail.
 
Four months later we’re calling back some of those same panelists for a Zoominar tomorrow at 9 a.m. We'll ask how their businesses are holding up and to share current concerns and challenges.
 
We'll also have a presentation from the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, to discuss a recent merchant survey and ways state and local governments can help independent merchants. 
 
BC students begin moving in
 
While many colleges are postponing openings or going remote, Boston College students are scheduled to begin moving in this week as the university moves forward with plans to bring students back to its campus on the Newton/Brighton line.
 
That could be welcome news for some businesses that benefit from student spending but nerve-wracking for everyone worried about community spread.
 
Students are returning to the area just as COVID appears to be spreading the fastest among people in their 20s and 30s, according to state statistics. Over a two-week period from July 26 through Aug. 8, people ages 20 to 39 accounted for 41 percent of all COVID-19 cases, CommonWealth reports.
Universal Hub reports that BC will hire Boston Police details to patrol off-campus areas around campus to keep superspreader parties from happening, while the Herald reports that bars in the Allston-Brighton area have been cited for “egregious violations” of coronavirus regulations.
 
Meanwhile, the BC student paper, the Heights reports that the university was unable to complete testing for its CoVerified app, which it had planned to use to schedule COVID testing appointments, in time for students’ phased in arrival on campus starting this week, switching instead to walk-in appointments.
 
There may not be any big parties but I hope freshmen still get a chance to hear from Bruce Springsteen, although perhaps virtually.
 
Good enough to repeat again
 
Here's another reminder to take advantage of a terrific online Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging training series that is being offered for free on LinkedIn through Aug. 31. Three of the courses are designed to help us understand and confront unconscious bias. The series also covers having inclusive conversations and creating diverse workplaces.
 
Programs like these are a great option for any business or nonprofit looking to introduce diversity training into the workplace at a time when bringing in an outside consultant isn’t feasible.
 
Say hey, to these folks!
 
I’ve been blown away by the many businesses and nonprofits that have prioritized belonging to this chamber during the worst economic downturn in our lives.
 
This morning, please join me in welcoming these 15 businesses and nonprofits who became members (or rejoined after a long absence) in July.
 

Not yet a member? Contact Lise Elcock so she can add your company's name to our August new members list. And thanks for belonging!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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