In the parts of Boston that show up on postcards and in guidebooks, the population is resurgent, the skies are full of construction cranes, and the restaurants are packed. Quite justifiably, City Hall has tried for years to spread that prosperity to the more diverse neighborhoods to the south and west. Boston has devoted a chunk of its community-development block grants to “Main Streets” groups, which help neighborhoods spruce up their business districts. And initiatives at every level of government seek to stimulate entrepreneurship among women, ethnic minorities, and immigrant communities across the city.
Those efforts, however, are likely to come up short, unless Boston can give business owners like Karen Henry-Garrett and Tran Le a fair shot at licenses to serve alcohol in their restaurants. In a risky, competitive business built on perishable ingredients and low margins, the ability to sell beer, wine, and liquor gives restaurateurs much-needed breathing room.