^ diverse fooderies : a bad idea posed by a City Council candidate would erase this picture
Political people pose bad ideas in every campaign. It seems to come with the territory and sets us back. In Boston this year, where some 19 candidates are running to fill four (4) at-large Council seats, one candidate — who has attracted much attention — has no put forth an idea which should sink her campaign pretty quickly : she suggests that new restaurant licenses be non-transferable.
^ Michelle for Boston ? Not now she isn’t
Making restaurant licenses non-transferable would pretty much end the restaurant business in Boston except for the very rich. restaurants start up all the time. Most fail. While open, often as a family venture without big bucks, their vast diversity of cuisines makes life in the City a food adventure. Because there are in Boston today many food adventurers, some of these newly opened restaurants succeed, for a longer time than most. The City needs this kind of adventure.
In a Boston with non-transferable restaurant licenses, there will be a lot fewer food adventures. The one factor that makes opening a new restaurant less risk than otherwise is that, at least, the closing restaurant can transfer its license — to a new location, or by sale to a new owner. Such licences are valuable, because restaurant licences do not multiply like locusts. They are fairly few. Taking the value out of such licenses will only guarantee that the fat-cat restaurant chains and millionaire-backed, downtown eateries will not have to fight small adventurous food joints for the dollars of people going out to eat.
With this proposal now on the table of a candidate with a following, those massively financed food emporia are toasting in today’s six-figure salary downtown Boston, woot-woot-ing on twelve-dollar mimosas before eighty-dollar-a-plate dinners.
Some who read this op-ed may be likening restaurant licenses to the taxi licenses whose rarity and manipulations have caused such a scandal — justly — in Boston this year. In fact restaurant licenses are nothing at all like taxi medallions. There’s an extremely limited number of taxi medallions, and they have tended to be bought up by monopolists. and why not ? Every taxi ride is the same : passenger and fare. restaurants are in no way the same. Some may succeed, others don’t. The cuisine is different. No one accumulates restaurant licenses.
Restaurant licenses must be freely transferable and encouraged to be so. To negate their transferability is a very, VERY bad idea. We oppose it.
—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere