Boston May Soon Receive 13 New Liquor Licenses

The Boston Globe reports that 13 Boston liquor licenses could become available for purchase on the open market if a proposal for a special airport liquor license goes through.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport, is asking the city to grant new restricted airport licenses to the approximately 40 vendors, including restaurants and airline clubs, that serve alcohol at the airport. Currently, these operators share 13 liquor licenses, with several of them sharing licenses in an unusual arrangement.

Under the new proposal, each restaurant, bar, and club at Logan would purchase a special new airport license — $2,500 for an all-alcohol license, $1,000 for beer and wine only. The establishments that currently have one of the 13 liquor licenses would be able to sell them to a Boston establishment outside the airport, pending final approval from the Boston Licensing Board.

Having each airport vendor responsible for its own license, instead of having many of them sharing a license owned by their retail manager, will make the administrative process simpler, said Lowell Richards, chief development officer for Massport. It will also make it easier to address any problems directly with the licensee. Massport modeled its proposal after similar geographic-specific liquor license arrangements at Patriot Place and Legacy Place, Richards said.

The petition will be introduced at this week’s Boston City Council meeting; if it is approved by the council and the mayor, it will then go to the state Legislature.

The number of liquor licenses in Boston is strictly capped, which drives up the market value for the 1,080 liquor licenses currently in circulation. Beer and wine licenses can sell for $50,000 or more, and all-alcohol can sell for $250,000 or more.

Having 13 licenses available at once would be rare. The last time so many were available was in 2006, when the state awarded the city 20 new licenses.

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