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Editorial

Restoration Hardware fiasco hints at a broader need

The grand-opening party at the new Restoration Hardware location in the Back Bay Wednesday had a few big things going for it. It was the handiwork of events-planning superstar Bryan Rafanelli, who handled Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, and the guest list abounded with local notables. Then again, it was an event for a home-furnishings chain store, and it took place on a miserable March night. So it was still remarkable that the event was so well-attended that invitees and servers had trouble moving around inside — and local fire officials felt compelled to shut it down.

Perhaps fittingly, the fiasco occurred just as The Onion had prompted a moment of good-natured soul-searching among local nightlife advocates. That same day, a satirical article in the gag newspaper poked fun at Boston’s “cute” efforts to act like a big city, and the crackdown at the Restoration Hardware party fit all too easily into Boston’s image as a place where fun gains little purchase. That’s not really fair: Keeping buildings from exceeding their fire capacity is entirely reasonable in a city long scarred by the Cocoanut Grove fire.

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