‘Common Sense,’ Guns, and Murder in America. Boston Alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Speak Out

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/19/2018

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On 2/15/18, the day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, I posted the following on Facebook:

Wikipedia notes that Craig Nelson called Thomas Paine a “pragmatic utopian,” who deemphasized economic arguments in favor of moralistic ones, and the writer calling himself “Cato,” denounced Paine as dangerous and his ideas as violent… Despite Paine’s dissenters, Historian Gordon S. Wood described Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”

["Economic arguments," (read GREED) is winning. The will of the American people, 'moralistic' values/arguments are losing.]

Could we ever use some common sense now…

Imagine if common sense, intelligence, and wisdom prevailed and we gathered together the brightest people from America and around the world, checked egos, greed, and party affiliations at the door, put everything on the table–including practical solutions that are working in nations around the world (Australia), and implemented policies, strategies, and laws to curtail the inevitable murders if we continue to do nothing??? This IS life and death. Unfortunately, our current leaders don’t have the courage, conviction, and vision to make that happen, and common sense has become a utopian concept in America.

The rancor, vitriol, entrenched acrimony, and divisive political paralysis that rule the day in America is perpetuating murder, it’s disgraceful, and threatening our ‘civilized’ democracy. Our inept ‘leaders’ are tragically failing the people whose interests they have sworn to represent and protect through their lack of leadership, initiative, and action. And we’re enabling them when we fail to rise up, demand change, and hold them accountable.

I understand that this is a complex problem, but ‘we’ (Americans) need to step up and respond to this tragic crisis with the ‘life and death’ sense of urgency that these repeated mass murders warrant. Complacency and inaction have never been the hallmark of “The Greatest Nation on Earth.” (We’re not, and don’t need to be.) The unequivocal, ‘plain truth’ is that the lack of response to the wanton murders is disgraceful.

Tangible, thoughtful, realistic action items and solutions welcome, please. Thank you.

In the comment thread that followed I included this post from the Live The Hero Blog. A few noteworthy quotes from the piece:

“Heroism, as depicted in great legends from around the world, from ancient myth to modern accounts, gives us a blueprint for how to act in the wake of crisis. The stories of real and fictional heroes are meant to remind us that heroism is about taking action and seeking solutions rather than succumbing to despair.”

“Please don’t think I’m suggesting that everyday heroism is the only solution to mass murder. I’m not trying to be simplistic. Like any human behavioral phenomenon, this is a complicated crisis. This issue certainly encompasses mental health, gun control, and other potential causes. These things should be part of the complex conversation.”

“But the legend of the Gordian Knot teaches us that no matter how complex an issue, we have the ability to make the “simple” decisions to act and strive toward solutions. Life may be complex, but deciding to seek positive change can be a small yet powerful step in a better direction.”

I also included a quote posted on facebook by my friend, Justin Manjourides, that was included in an email from the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health regarding the Parkland shooting:

“As many of you know, federal funding for gun violence research has been stifled for two decades. This research could lead to a greater understanding of the causes of gun violence and ways it can be prevented.”

Following that quote, Justin’s post continued:

“So whether you want congress to ban all guns or whether you think this is a mental health issue, surely we can all agree that more research into WHY these mass shooting events occur can help us answer this question and prevent future tragedies.

We should all be contacting our congressional representatives and demanding an end to the restrictions placed on public funding for gun violence research in this country.

Despite these restrictions, my friend and colleague Matthew Miller, has been able to conduct meaningful research in this area which consistently shows that access to firearms is positively associated with higher rates of homicides and suicides. Please read it.

Justin is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

My friend, Leah Goldman posted the following powerful, passionate piece on LinkedIn that I included in my facebook thread:

I am a Marjory Stoneman Douglas kid

I am from Parkland. I went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. These two facts used to be obscure “deep cuts” of Florida geography after saying I grew up in South Florida. Now, since last Wednesday, my hometown and my alma mater are front page news and a staple of the 24-hour news cycle. It is surreal. It is heartbreaking. But I know that if real change is coming, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High is the catalyst to make it happen.

Why am I writing this?

• I am mobilizing my network.

• I’m letting you know that you are connected to this community.

• I’m telling you this is a “whole life” (yes, even professional) issue.

Why is Parkland different?

Well, because it isn’t. Parkland is a place where families move “for the schools.” It’s basically a suburb of a suburb. You, my network, live in these towns or perhaps think about the not-so-distant future when your kids will be in middle school and you’d like to live somewhere like this.

But it also is. MSD molds incredible people. It is a foundation shared by my friends – doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, tech leaders and so many other amazing individuals – that provided us with the tools we needed to go on to build paths to all make change. We took challenging AP class loads, and were given opportunities to become debaters, band members, athletes, “mathletes,” and so much more… because this school values hard work and community and the students, teachers, and parents reinforce those principles.

My education at Marjory Stoneman Douglas profoundly shaped who I am today. In fact, both my husband [Justin Manjourides] and I went to high school there and attribute much of our paths through college and beyond to the time we spent in (and out) of those classrooms.

Why do you care?

This tragedy obviously hits us emotionally. “What if it was my kid’s school?” “How will those students and teachers move forward?” “What do we do to protect ourselves?”

But now is the time for more than emotion. It is a time for action! We have a national crisis that must be addressed.

• There is a clear outcome that must be delivered. I know from my years working with Fortune 500 companies transforming businesses to perform, we start with defining the outcome we want, determine the root causes and value drivers, and then go and do the work. Move the “big rocks” and cut the “low hanging fruit.” Right now our outcome must be ensuring that students are safe in their schools. Our rocks are the quagmire of policy and a battle of whose “rights” are more sacred. The low hanging fruit is communicating, engaging, and taking action… even if the action is writing your legislators or a LinkedIn article!

• This is a pipeline and employee engagement issue. Students are impacted, and they are now legitimately passionate about their right to learn safely. And they will be your new hires in 5-10 years. I read my network’s posts… we care about engaging our employees, adapting our cultures to best work across generations, and motivating our organizations to constantly grow. Well, guess what, this is a huge population that will be voting and working within the next few years and we must be their champions.

• We have the power to change. We are responsible for creating and growing the great digital ecosystem that is central to our lives. Yes, WE are! My network is full of influencers – executives, consultants, founders, strategists, coaches, and communicators. We are trained to problem solve and create change. We vote with our ballots, our dollars, and our social engagement. We are empowered to do something to change the course of history.

So… What do we do?

In the hours and days since these murders, I have been humbled and proud of the action I see on Facebook. From alumni mobilizing support and action to friends connecting and donating, the view of Parkland from here in Boston is hopeful. But on LinkedIn the stories I see are about “hot job skills” “risk taking” and “communicating”. Let’s take a break from discussing conferences, white papers, and points of view. Let’s mobilize our networks to act and make Marjory Stoneman Douglas High the last mass school shooting in America.

“You have to stand up for some things in this world.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas

• Contact our leaders. Regardless of our political leanings, we can agree that school shootings are bad and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Go to www.usa.gov/elected-officials and let our leaders know that we demand more from them.

• Demand sensible gun policy. We must ensure that dangerous people do not have access to guns. See how your state stacks up and take action.

I write this today to let you know that YOU are connected to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I am your connector. Together we can amplify the message of these incredibly brave students and really be the change we want to see in the world.

Leah can be reached at leah.m.goldman@gmail.com.

Thank you for your intensity, empathy, compassion, and for sharing, Leah and Justin. Thank you for including me, and in turn, everyone reading this, in your network. We’re just getting started…

Please share this post if inspired to do so. I will edit this post and add recommended action items and events for those who are moved to participate. Please email me at Patrick@servernotservant.com with action-item suggestions. Our government is failing us. It’s time to speak up, mobilize, take and demand action. Thank you.

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Social Media for Restaurants & Small Businesses-Essential in 2018

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 01/20/2018

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At a luncheon meeting with a chef/owner of a Boston area restaurant, the chef and client of my consulting business told me that he chose the restaurant based on the recommendation of Marc Hurwitz, founder of Hidden Boston, an online restaurant guide covering Boston and New England. The Hidden Boston platforms have a combined reach of 185,000+ followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Marc had highly recommended the chicken wings, and they were very good. To acknowledge the referral, I took a picture of the wings and was preparing to post it on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, tagging the restaurant and Hidden Boston. Unfortunately for the restaurant, they had no Instagram or Twitter accounts, and still don’t today. As a result, the restaurant didn’t benefit from a post that would have been visible to a minimum of 148,000 people (IG and Twitter), plus the retweets and people who searched Google or searched the hashtag #ChickenWings. And when I was there, the restaurant wasn’t very busy…

On January 7, 2018 Zagat released their 2018 Dining Trends Survey: Highest Tippers, Social Media Habits and More that included:

“In our last dining trends survey we learned that 75% of our respondents who browse food photos have chosen a place to eat based on social media, in addition to other fascinating stats on dining deal-breakers, tipping habits and more. Once again, we attempted to tackle the curious subject of diner behavior by tapping into the opinions of nearly 13,000 avid diners across the country in our 2018 survey.”

There is no excuse in 2018 for restaurants and most businesses to ignore the importance of establishing and maintaining social media accounts. You can’t benefit from ‘passive’ promotion from ambassadors of your restaurant if you’re not even in the game. Sometimes it is about life and death, and other times it’s about your brand, reputation, promotions, and crisis management.

Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” (25+ million copies sold), noted in a blog post on 10/31/08:

I sometimes use the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account. Like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and take withdrawals from the account. When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy—that means your understanding of what deposits and withdrawals are to other people—those two things—empathy and integrity—that little by little you can restore trust.

This metaphor translates perfectly to businesses and the people who own, lead, manage, and operate them. And PR, social media, and marketing play a critical role in consistently making deposits to build trust and respect with employees, vendors, your community, and current and future customers.

Life and death. During the summer of 2016, a very popular Boston food truck suddenly lost a young member of their work family to a tragic death. A few days later, the owner of the food truck took to social media and posted a heartfelt tribute and a link to a campaign to raise money for their brother’s funeral services. As a result, they raised almost 2 times their goal so the family of the deceased could properly pay their respects and celebrate his life. No business or human being is exempt from unexpected tragedy.

Restaurants and other businesses face challenges every day–less extreme examples than above, that require effective communication with their customers and their network. If a sprinkler head explodes, you’re robbed, experience a fire, flooding, or mechanical failure, and need to communicate temporary or extended closures, the larger your network is, the easier it is to get the word out, on your terms.

Many social media “resisters” haven’t established accounts because of their misconception about what’s involved to get started and maintain them. It’s really not as difficult as many people think. Here are a few examples of why restaurants and small businesses should have a minimum of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and a growing email database for newsletters:

  • Recruiting staff.
  • Congratulating/recognizing employees.
  • Acknowledging and thanking loyal regulars and new customers.
  • Promoting/co-branding with vendors, neighbors, friends, and peers.
  • Crisis management-communicating on your terms, not an editor’s.
  • Promoting on-site events and off-site charity event participation.
  • Marketing food and drink specials and seasonal menu changes.
  • Notifying the public when you’re closed due to a private event.
  • Notification of holiday hours, vacation closures, and medical emergencies.
  • Notification when remaining open during snowstorms or extreme weather.
  • Linking to, and acknowledging media coverage, and positive amateur & professional reviews.
  • The passive benefit of customer ‘ambassadors’ promoting your business for you.
  • Grass roots, organic, social media marketing leads to broader media coverage.
  • Building goodwill and making deposits into the “emotional bank accounts” of employees, vendors, and the public.

Imprints and impressions derived from social media drive decisions about where customers dine and consumers spend money. And all businesses can benefit from some genuine goodwill at some point during their tenure. Even busy restaurants have gaps that could be filled in with effective social media marketing. I know of several restaurants that are slow Sunday thru Wednesday that are doing little or nothing to help their own cause via social media and email marketing.

A common refrain I hear from restaurant and business owners is, “I don’t have time for all that social media stuff.” With the increasing number of restaurants and competing entities, restaurants and small businesses cannot afford to ignore the benefits of establishing and maintaining social media platforms. They are essential, and failure to embrace social media will put restaurants and small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.  It’s not that hard to get started or improve upon what you are currently doing.

After requests from prospective clients in Boston and across the US, I’m now offering a new Social Media Audit & Consultation for restaurant and small business clients. This social media marketing, independent audit, and workshop, is a way to ensure that you, your staff, and affiliates are maximizing the potential to market your business. This candid analysis and feedback will ensure that your restaurant/business is at the forefront of social media marketing, you’re “in the game,” and that you remain current with ideas to improve your business and income on an ongoing basis.

Who will benefit?

#1- Restaurants and small businesses across the USA currently not using or maximizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email marketing to engage their current and prospective customers to maximize sales.

#2- Restaurants and small businesses that are using social media but realize they could be doing a much better job, and need a jump-start to inspire them and get them back on track.

Details and pricing here.

Please forward this post to any restaurant or small business owners who could benefit from it.

Thank you-Patrick  Email: Patrick@servernotservant.com

Instagram and Twitter: @PatrickMBoston

Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with Marc Hurwitz of Hidden Boston, and refer restaurant and small business clients to him for sponsored social media posts.

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Social Media Audit & Consultation for Restaurants & Small Businesses 2018

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 01/20/2018

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Offer for USA restaurants and small businesses from Patrick Maguire of Maguire Promotions-PR, Social Media & Hospitality Consulting.

After requests from prospective clients in Boston and across the US, I’m now offering a new, personalized Social Media Audit & Consultation Workshop for restaurant and small business clients. This social media independent audit and workshop, is a way to ensure that you, your staff, and affiliates are maximizing the potential to market your business. Too many restaurateurs neglect to ask for respectful, candid feedback to improve their operations. In an environment of fierce competition and a shortage of quality staff, continuous improvement and remaining open to opportunity should always be priorities.

This candid analysis and feedback will ensure that your restaurant/business is at the forefront of social media marketing, you’re “in the game,” and that you remain current with ideas to improve your visibility, relevance, and sales. Social media works:

On January 7, 2018 Zagat released 2018 Dining Trends Survey: Highest Tippers, Social Media Habits and More that included:

“In our last dining trends survey we learned that 75% of our respondents who browse food photos have chosen a place to eat based on social media, in addition to other fascinating stats on dining deal-breakers, tipping habits and more. Once again, we attempted to tackle the curious subject of diner behavior by tapping into the opinions of nearly 13,000 avid diners across the country in our 2018 survey.”

Social media is one of the most economical and powerful influences driving consumer purchasing decisions.

Who will benefit from the consultation?

#1- Restaurants and small businesses across the USA currently not optimizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or email marketing to engage their current and prospective customers to maximize sales.

#2- Restaurants and small businesses that are using social media but realize they could be doing a much better job, and  need a jump-start to inspire them and get them back on track.

This service is not intended to disrupt any successful, existing relationships you have, but to supplement them. However, too many restaurants and small businesses are over-paying for PR and social media consulting firms that are over-promising and under-delivering. With minimal (but consistent) time and effort, social media can be successfully executed in-house.  For those of you currently managing social media on your own, our partnership, through coaching and candid feedback, will enhance what you and your team are currently doing.

Services include:

• An audit/analysis of your most recent 2 months of social media posts/content. This includes every aspect of your company’s online presence, including your website, social media platforms, and Google search results. This is the respectful, honest feedback you need that your friends, family, regulars, and vendors won’t give you for fear of offending you. The initial evaluation will be performed by me (Patrick Maguire) personally (not an intern), and the results will be presented in writing and in-person or via conference call with your team.

• A copy and review of my “Maguire Promotions Social Media Strategy Guide.”

• A copy and review of my “jm Curley Social Media Strategy” is included with our partnership and will be included in the initial discussion with your team. jm Curley barroom and restaurant in downtown Boston was named one of the “50 Coolest Small Businesses in America” by Business Insider when I was managing the social media marketing and promotions. Business Insider, eagerly embracing social media, currently has 8.1 million likes on facebook, 2.2 million followers on twitter, and 1.2 million followers on Instagram.

• A copy and review of my “Instagram Strategy for Restaurants and Small Businesses,” including a referral for an Instagram takeover/give-away to add 400+ local Instagram followers.

• A copy and review of my “Free Promotional Content Checklist.” We’ll implement protocol for communicating (Internally and externally) and humbly sharing positive reviews of your restaurant/business and all media, blog posts, and features praising your restaurant/business. Most restaurants and businesses have no strategic gameplan for sharing great news.

• A copy and review of my “Social Media Daily Checklist” for restaurants and small businesses.

After emailing all of the highlighted items above to your team, I will meet or conference call with your social media team, and your designated affiliates. (Average initial meeting time is 1.5 hours.)

• After the initial kickoff meeting, 2 hours of consultation, coaching and follow-up is included with our partnership.

Ongoing: I will be constantly seeking ways to promote your restaurant/business and improve your operation. A common complaint I hear from restaurateurs and business owners is, “I don’t have time to keep up with all that stuff. It’s overwhelming.” I agree. I read everything I can locally, nationally and internationally about restaurants and business, and will forward anything that I feel is relevant to your restaurant/business. I often find great pieces on hospitality, training, motivation, leadership, and other industry-related topics. I will forward select items I come across about your restaurant or industry that you may want to forward to your managers or entire staff. Great internal communication builds trust and loyalty.

Next Steps: Getting started on our partnership requires an up-front payment of $500 per restaurant or business that includes all of the services described above. Upon receipt of payment, I will email copies of all of the items above, then schedule time to meet with you and your team, in-person or via conference call.

Please feel free to forward this post to your restaurant industry friends and small business network within the USA who could benefit from this offer. Please contact me to clarify anything included herein, or to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Patrick

Email: patrick@servernotservant.com

PS- Please email me for a complete list of all of the restaurant and small business consulting services I provide. All services are available à la carte, and can be tailored to the specific needs of your business. Thank you.

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Boston Beverage Bureaucracy and the Morass of Massachusetts Alcohol Regulations

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Observe / Analyze

Posted: 12/28/2017

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On Friday, November 17, 2017 Trillium Brewing Company announced plans to operate an indoor winter beer garden in the historic Roslindale Substation Building ” in partnership with Roslindale Village Main Street.” The post included:

“We had a killer time with the Garden on the Greenway this summer so we jumped at the chance to bring Trillium to another Boston neighborhood,” said Trillium co-owner Esther Tetreault. “Our goal has always been to build a strong community and share what we do. The Substation is such a unique and iconic space, in a welcoming neighborhood, making Roslindale a perfect winter home for the Trillium Garden.”

“Beer aficionados will have the unique opportunity to drink Trillium’s award-winning beer in the Substation’s awe-inspiring space, with its 34 foot ceilings, 18-foot copper clad doors, 250-ton capacity gantry crane, and six two-story windows,” said Alia Hamada Forrest, RVMS’s [Roslindale Village Main Street] Executive Director. “Where Trillium goes, its fans follow. I’m eager to welcome the newcomers that will discover Roslindale’s existing mix of vibrant restaurants and retail options, and hope that these types of creative partnerships continue to spark across all of Boston Main Street districts. We know when you visit — you will want to return.”

The ‘Trillium Garden at the Substation’ pop-up is a good, interim solution for a very cool (and huge), historic, vacant space while the search for a long-term tenant continues. The RVMS website adds:

RVMS identified and sought out Trillium because of its national reputation, loyal following, and successful track record of working in partnership with food, arts, and cultural pop-up events in non-traditional spaces.

Built in 1911, the Substation functioned as part of the Boston Elevated Railway Company’s then revolutionary alternating electric current power system. Designed by architect Robert Peabody of Peabody and Stearns with Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation, the Substation is one of six nearly identical converter substations built in and around Boston at that time. It has been vacant since the 1970s. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prellwitz Chilinski Associates of Cambridge was the architect for the renovation.

To use Alia Hamada’s (RVMS executive director) words, how do these creative partnerships happen? And why aren’t the details transparent to the public? Unless I’m missing something, the detailed information is not readily available online as it should be.

In January of 2017, Dan Adams in the Boston Globe reported on a long-overdue Massachusetts initiative to review how the state regulates alcohol in a piece titled, ‘Everything is on the table’ in sweeping review of state alcohol rules. From the piece:

Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is throwing open the doors to the most extensive rethinking of how the state regulates alcohol since the end of Prohibition, directing a new task force to create a more cohesive set of rules that “deals with the 21st century.”

With no limits from Goldberg on which issues it may consider, the group of seven legal and political figures — with input from the public and bars, brewers, distributors, and other companies — will have broad authority to set its own agenda when it meets for the first time later in January(2017).

Among the issues that officials and industry executives suggested could be reviewed: extending the hours for package stores, lifting caps on liquor licenses in each municipality, allowing beer-makers to switch distributors more easily, loosening restrictions on consumers bringing alcohol to restaurants or reusing growlers, boosting funding to the chronically understaffed Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, or clarifying rules about so-called pay-to-play incentives.

Many recommendations would require approval by the Massachusetts Legislature. And lawmakers have been reluctant to make comprehensive changes to state alcohol laws, in part because of heavy lobbying by some members of the industry.

Even so, the effort is already the source of anxiety among brewers, distributors, bars, package stores, and other companies with alcohol licenses. While most agree the current regulatory system is needlessly complex and unclear, each segment is worried that changes sought by other businesses will hurt its own bottom line.

As if the antiquated MA liquor licensing laws aren’t confusing enough, when you consider that the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) has to operate ‘in concert with’ each MA municipality (with their own ‘rules’), clarity becomes  even more elusive…

From the Mass.Gov website:

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission is an agency under the Massachusetts State Treasury. Our overall objective is to provide uniform control over the sale, transportation, possession, purchasing, and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages in the state.

Who we serve

We work with companies in the alcoholic beverage industry and municipal licensing authorities to provide licenses, enforce legislation and regulations, and resolve license issues.

Updates on substantive progress from the state have been scarce. The Massachusetts Alcohol Task Force released a preliminary report in August of 2017 that included, “We anticipate providing a final report before the end of the year.”

[I spoke with Chandra Allard, Communications Director for the Office of the Treasurer and Receiver General for the State of MA on 12/27/17. She was extremely professional and helpful, and mentioned that the independent MA Alcohol Task Force was on schedule, and that the Treasurer’s office was expecting the report any day. She offered to forward the report to me, and I will edit this post to include it as soon as I receive it.] 

Edit 12/28/17:  Copy of Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission of Massachusetts: Task Force Report

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, the Boston Globe ran a front page story titled, Scores of Cambridge restaurants paid six figures for a liquor license. Others got them for free. As the title suggests, the process of obtaining a liquor license for Cambridge, MA restaurant owners is complicated, inconsistent, and often frustrating and maddening. The article states that “Nothing on the Cambridge License Commission’s website or at its offices explained how to get a free license,” and that there is “… a long line of Cambridge restaurant owners ensnared in an opaque and arbitrary system in which commissioners granted liquor licenses for free to some, while others had to pay up to $450,000 — sometimes at the direct urging of city officials.”

Excerpts from the Globe piece:

City officials belatedly recognized the regulatory mess they created. A new license commission chair was appointed in January 2016 to help clean up the system. Nicole Murati Ferrer formerly worked at Boston’s licensing agency and was charged with bringing Cambridge in line with state law.

In a Globe interview, Murati Ferrer distanced herself from a number of the commission’s past actions. She is relaxing the hurdles to get free licenses, and she has stopped the commission’s practice of urging license seekers to make deals with particular sellers, which had effectively put the city in the middle of high-cost, private transactions.

But Murati Ferrer made no apologies for past policies on issuing licenses, or the negative consequences for owners caught in the middle. She said the commission had no duty at hearings to inform owners of their options, and that people needed to seek information from the city earlier in the process.

“Our job is not to decide whether you negotiated a good deal,’’ Murati Ferrer said. “The rules and regulations were out there.”

“… the process was uneven at best, as commissioners tried to find middle ground between handing out free licenses and making applicants buy them. They often stretched ethical boundaries, and at times broke the commission’s own rules and state law, according to city and state officials.”

One of the biggest complaints from Cambridge restaurateurs was the lack of transparency in the process of issuing licenses.

As a result of the investigative Boston Globe piece, on November 14, 2017, the Globe ran a follow up piece stating that:

A state agency is investigating the way liquor licenses have been issued in the city of Cambridge, officials said Tuesday, and is focusing on practices that may have violated state laws.

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who oversees the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, said she found “troubling” the findings in a Boston Globe report on Sunday that examined liquor license transactions in Cambridge. She said her office was “looking into any allegations of wrongdoing that violate state law.”

Clearly, there is a still a significant amount of work to be done to bring fairness and uniformity to the laws, requirements, procedures, and communications related to local and state liquor licensing in Massachusetts. Which brings us back to the Roslindale.

The original announcement about the Trillium Garden at the Substation and/or the opening on December 7, 2017 was reported on by several Boston news outlets. Even reporting on the complicated licensing process can be confusing as hell, as evidenced in this piece by  Universal Hub. As they often do, none of the media outlets reporting on the opening of Trillium in Roslindale included any public information about the alcohol license, a hearing regarding the license, Neighborhood Association meetings, Fire Dept inspection, certificate of occupancy, or permitting (building or otherwise).

No reporting I’ve seen includes answers to the following:

  1. Exactly what type of alcohol license was issued? [Farmer Brewer License, Farmer-Series Pouring PermitPub Brewery License.] Was it a combination of these and/or part of Boston’s special license initiative to encourage commerce in specific neighborhoods?
  2. What are the restrictions/requirements of the specific beverage license issued? (Beer brewed onsite in Roslindale, etc?) My understanding is that Trillium beer is brewed in Fort Point and Canton only, not Roslindale.
  3. What are the restriction/requirements with respect to serving food? Why isn’t Trillium Garden at the Substation required to serve food out of an ISD-inspected kitchen operating within their facility?
  4. Will neighboring restaurants/purveyors be given preference as food vendors? [Sophia Eppolito reports in the Boston Globe on 12/19 that local food vendors will be invited, and that visitors can bring their own food.]
  5. Where did the license come from?
  6. How much did it cost?
  7. Was the license pre-existing?
  8. Is the license a succession of temporary monthly licenses, renewable or transferable?
  9. Who holds the license, the tenant or the landlord?
  10. Was there a public hearing before the license was issued? If not, why not?
  11. Were there public Neighborhood Association meetings conducted before the license was granted? If not, why not? If yes, are there minutes?
  12. If this was a unique/special license granted, were neighboring restaurants/bars invited to a hearing to ask questions, discuss their concerns or voice their support?
  13. How does the Roslindale neighborhood governing body interact with the city of Boston, State of MA,  and Feds (TTB) to ensure that the process of issuing alcohol licenses is consistent and fair for every licenses issued?
  14. Does the issuance of this specific license pave the way for others to follow suit so “these types of creative partnerships continue to spark across all of Boston Main Street districts?” If yes, is anyone (local, city, state, and Fed levels) collaborating on a ‘playbook’ to show others how to replicate and simplify the licensing process?
  15. Why aren’t most of the answers to the questions above readily accessible online?

When I spoke with Chandra Allard with the MA Treasurer’s office, she noted that after they review/analyze the MA Alcohol Task Force report, they will prioritize the recommendations based on what positive changes they can implement immediately, then changes that will require legislation and/or legal proceedings. She also mentioned that the public is welcome to continue to submit recommendations to the MA Treasury Department’s Constituent Services Team via this link. After I read the report, I will be submitting my recommendations based on the questions above, your comments below, and everything else I can read on these issues.

Currently there are a lot of questions, few answers, and a morass of longstanding, complicated issues that need to be addressed. Clarity, consistency, and complete transparency are some of the most pressing.

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Kindness in Boston Restaurants Captured by Kara Baskin for The Boston Globe

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 12/23/2017

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Boston Globe correspondent, Kara Baskin posted this lead-in on facebook to her attached piece on kindness in the restaurant industry in Boston:

There has been lots of disgusting news about abhorrent behavior in the restaurant industry (and every industry) lately. Talking to these restaurant workers who look out for our elders and treat senior citizens with respect, offer them companionship–and in some cases actually keep them safe–was a happy reminder that most people really are good at heart.

Amen, Kara. Reprinted with permission.

By Kara Baskin Globe correspondent December 18, 2017:

For older diners, restaurants serve up sustenance of another kind

Leo always visited Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton alone. Over time, he became a familiar face for co-owner Karen Masterson.

One mid-summer’s day, Leo showed up wearing a down jacket. “My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease,” says Masterson. “I’m sensitive to the early confusion stage.” Not long after, he pulled out a piece of cardboard. The cardboard had contact information for his most important touchstones: the YMCA, Veteran’s Taxi, his daughter — and Johnny’s. He handed the card to Masterson and asked for a ride to an address scrawled on the page. Not wanting to bundle Leo off to an unknown address in a cab, Masterson phoned his daughter, who confirmed his home address.

“I feel so strongly that this is how we need to care for each other,” Masterson says. “Restaurants need to make that phone call, be that place, see when someone needs a little extra. If you’ve been gifted with a long life, hopefully people in your orbit will do a little more. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Lately, news from the restaurant world has been short on beautiful things. Formerly untouchable chefs like Mario Batali and John Besh have fallen spectacularly from grace amid accusations of sexual harassment. Earlier this month, five kitchen workers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit based on experiences at the Faneuil Hall McCormick & Schmick’s. Who’s next? Where’s next? Restaurants aren’t always a safe place to be. Sometimes they’re scary, discriminatory, dangerous.

But sometimes they’re safe havens, too, and steadying influences for people who need it most, warm places in the literal — and figurative — cold.

That’s what happened at the Black Rose near Faneuil Hall. The Irish pub has turned into a hangout for Phyllis, who lives alone in the North End. When Phyllis came in complaining that her TV had broken — which meant that she couldn’t watch her beloved cartoons — the staff pooled money to buy her a new one. When it’s snowy, someone will drive her back to her apartment.

“It’s just a minute away, but it could take her a half-hour in the ice and snow,” says bartender Christine O’Neill.

Staffers at the Black Rose met Phyllis when she began coming in with her mother, says O’Neill. Soon, though, her mother passed away. Phyllis kept visiting, even when she had cancer and needed a walker for tumors in her legs.

“She comes for an hour or two, has fish and chips, and always sits at the same table,” O’Neill says. “She’s everyone’s friend. She calls us her children. She brings us candy that she gets at the bank.”

Another Black Rose server sometimes buys Phyllis dinner.

“She’s on her own. We pay the check for her. You don’t know what her situation is completely, you know what I mean?” says O’Neill.

The relationship works both ways. These restaurants are sanctuaries for customers — and an emotional boost for workers, too.

“Phyllis always lightens up our day. She comes in and says, ‘Hello, my darling!’ ” O’Neill says.

For staffers, these customers feel like family. Mike Tirella is a regular at Trattoria Il Panino, always with a full-bodied wine and chicken parmesan. He drives to the North End from the boulevard in Revere and sits at the bar to chat with Leo Rodriguez, his favorite bartender. Tirella is 80 and Rodriguez is 28, but they have plenty to talk about.

“These people are like my family. I see them more than I see my family. You know how life is. You barely see your family once a week. But I see Mike three or four times a week. I walk in and want to give him a hug. If I take a day off, he’s worried,” Rodriguez says.

“You feel like you belong. You feel like you belong to the place, and it means a lot,” says Tirella.

Across town, Richard Ray describes himself as the “Norm” of the Butcher Shop in the South End, as much a fixture as its tagliatelle with bolognese. Ray lives two blocks away and has been visiting since it opened in 2003. Now, he has his own designated seat at the bar on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“There’s a group of friends who I spent most of my time with before the Butcher Shop opened,” says Ray, who is 78 and lives alone. “When you reach a point with your friends when you complete their sentences, you’ve run out of things to say.”

So he decided to spice things up at the new local watering hole.

“I found it comfortable, a way to meet new people,” he says. A manager greeted him with a glass of sherry, and he never looked back. Now he’s there every weekend before 5 p.m., chatting about books, TV, and whatever’s streaming on Netflix.

“I’m a creature of extreme habit. Everyone knows I’m not available for anything else because I’m at the Butcher Shop on Friday or Saturday. It’s like a second family. I don’t want to say I’m their old grandfather — but maybe their old uncle,” he says.

He’s especially fond of Saturday night bartender Steven Gilarde and his wife, Kate, a former Butcher Shop employee who’s now at O Ya. The couple sometimes goes out to dinner with Ray; he’s invited them to his birthday parties.

“We care a lot about him. My wife even set up a rule with him: If you won’t show up on a Friday or Saturday, you have to call so we won’t worry.”

And he does.

In a busy world, certain restaurants serve as sanctuaries and safeguards for people. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the companionship, the pure human connection.

That’s what happened for Rita Manor, a Brookline icon who used to make the rounds in her walker, popping in at local businesses and sassing her favorite owners.

Steven Peljovich owns Michael’s Deli in Coolidge Corner, one of Manor’s chosen haunts. Over time, she became a surrogate grandmother for him, busting his chops if there wasn’t enough honey in her tzimmes.

“She lived in her own apartment in Brookline by herself. I don’t know how she was so happy, because she had nobody. She’d cheer us all up, bring us presents on birthdays and holidays. I’d fight with her in the winter, the way you’d fight with your grandmother: ‘Rita, stop walking! It’s snowing!’ ” he with a laugh.

Finally, concerned for her health, Peljovich got her phone number. During bad weather, he’d call and ask her what she wanted delivered for lunch. He bought her a new walker from Belmont Medical Supply when her insurance wouldn’t pay for it, trading it for food.

“She hung a Michael’s Deli sign from it,” he says.

Then Manor stopped visiting. Her special table was empty. No more wisecracks. No more meatloaf or chicken noodle soup, no more bread toasted so black that Peljovich’s toaster nearly caught fire.

“I literally started calling hospitals because I wanted to bring her food,” Peljovich says. Finally, he tracked her down at a Boston hospital. She would be transferred to hospice in Chestnut Hill, he was told.

So he drove out to see her one last time.

“I’ll never forget: It was a horribly snowy day. She loved to read. So me and the staff, we put together a bunch of books, food. I had no idea how bad her condition was. I said to the desk, ‘I’m here to see Rita.’ The woman said, ‘She’s not seeing anyone, but I’ll get her this stuff.’ I left my card. The folks called me the next day to let me know she’d passed.”

But, in a way, Rita still visits the deli, even though she’ll be gone two years next month.

“She’d sit at the very first table. There’s a picture of my father here, and her picture is the only other one I have,” Peljovich says. “I have a lot of regulars. But I’ll never forget Rita.”


Please share your stories in the comments below, and share this blog post if the spirit moves you.

Here’s to a much better year in 2018. Cheers-Patrick


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