Boston Beverage Bureaucracy and the Morass of Massachusetts Alcohol Regulations

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Observe / Analyze

Posted: 12/28/2017

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

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


Permalink | Posted in Human-to-Human Service | 1 Comment »

8 Reasons Your Kids Should Work in Restaurants-Guest Post by David Wither via TODAY Parenting Team

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Family-Life Experiences

Posted: 12/16/2017

On August 21, 2017,  David Wither submitted a post to The TODAY Parenting Team blog that I think is worth sharing. I’d add a 9th reason that working in restaurants can be a valuable life experience:

#9-The appreciation, empathy, and respect people should develop for hard-working service industry workers and humans they interact with for the rest of their lives, encouraging decency, mutual respect, and common courtesy.

8 Reasons Your Kids Should Work in Restaurants by David Wither in TODAY Parenting 8/21/17

Half of all Americans have worked in restaurants at some point over the course of their lives. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant work is the first job for one out of three Americans.

Sitting down with Dan Simons, co-owner of the most booked restaurant in the nation on OpenTable, Founding Farmers, we learned a lot about why restaurant work is not only a draw for teens and young adults but why he thinks every kid, beginning with teenagers, should work in restaurants.

“There is an assumption that even though restaurant work may be good for your wallet, it is a throw away job that isn’t good for much else,” says Simons. “We know that working in restaurants early is a great career step for those headed into the hospitality industry. But it’s also good professional and personal development for almost everyone, regardless of where they are headed with their careers.”

According to Simons, encouraging restaurant work, especially for teens and young adults, provides many important skills for future work life, and for building a happy, productive life.

• Of course a strong work ethic is a requirement for many jobs, but restaurant work often raises the bar. In most restaurants, employees have to work hard, quickly, efficiently, under the watchful eyes of the guests, their managers, and other team members. The products of their labor are usually in full view, how long it took to bus the table, how the drink tasted, how the plate of food looked, whether the hostess was polite and helpful, were the bathrooms clean, was the waiter folding a napkin as she walked to the table because she didn’t do her pre-shift work. All of it matters to the guest experience. An individual’s work ethic, their capacity to get the job done, must meet the standards and quality control not only of their bosses, but the satisfaction of their guests, and the acceptance of their team.

• It goes without saying that punctuality is essential in restaurants. The timelines set by these service industry jobs are tight, staff working against the clock because the guests are often waiting to be seated, to be served, and to be sent happily on their way, all in a timely fashion per their particular schedules and desires. For staff across the restaurant, this requires effective minute-to-minute time management and organization. Workers are arranging tasks around meal and drink ticket times, orchestrating the seating of guests based on waitlists and reservations, and delivering all of it in accordance with the desires of each guest.

• In a restaurant, no job is done in a vacuum. Every piece of these jobs requires a piece of someone else’s job. Teamwork is mandatory. Learning the art of working with a team is essential for every single employee. This includes learning to help others, rely on others, get along with others, and appreciate others. It also teaches the power of good collaboration.

• Restaurants usually bring guests from all walks of life. They also draw fairly diverse staff. All of this depends, of course, upon the location of the restaurant, but it is an industry that, for the most part, will give teens and young adults exposure to diversity. They will learn to work for and with all sorts of people.

• Learning to serve others is built into most service industry jobs. In restaurants, whether directly interacting with guests, or not, you are part of an operation built to serve. For workers in the front of the house, service is not just providing what is requested, but also paying attention to what guests don’t ask, being empathic. Not everyone wants the same service or attention. It depends on who they are and why they are there. Some guests need to get in and out, without any fuss. Some want to hang out and talk. Some love a lot of attention. Some want barely any. Some tables have a mix of both. Great service adapts to each individual guest and group of guests.

• Entry-level work is a great learning experience. It isn’t necessarily about learning humility, although that is a great life lesson, but entering a position at the ground floor and learning the ins and outs amongst others who already know the ins and outs. This is an important life skill and not something kids get in school where everyone usually learns together, as a group, as the teacher walks them through their lesson plans and syllabi.

• Cleanliness! Learning to clean up after yourself and after others. This is the fantasy of so many parents, a kid who actually knows how to clean up and does it, without being asked, without grumbling. Restaurant work teaches kids how to clean and how to clean well, because there are food safety standards and a manager who is following behind them and saying, “you missed this spot.” Wouldn’t it be great to have someone else teaching your kid that? While they are under your roof, and when they move onto their own.

• Working in a restaurant is usually lively, engaging, and fun. It often makes going to work also fun, helping kids learn the importance of doing what they love, of not setting up the outdated work/life dichotomy but building a career that makes them happy and provides satisfaction across their lives.

As we all know, the real world is very different from school and often very different from the parental catered experience many kids have. Helping kids prepare can cause much angst and worry for parents. Working in a restaurant and learning some of the skills inherent to serving others, working hard, smart, as a team, and quickly can help pave the way for many kids. This work may smooth the transition into a more independent existence and give them some essential tools to build successful careers and lives. 

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Thank you.

Permalink | Posted in Family-Life Experiences | 1 Comment »

College Professor (‘Distinguished Faculty Scholar’) Schooled on Manners and Hospitality by Popular Boston Bartender

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 11/13/2017

It’s one thing to act like an asshole (perhaps under the influence) in public, but entirely another to take to the keyboard after you’ve been thrown out of a restaurant, and write a scathing, unintelligible, one-star Yelp ‘review,’ to confirm that you’re an asshole. And if you don’t apologize and delete the offensive review upon reflection, you’re incorrigible.

TS, one of Boston’s best, and well-respected bartenders, shared an incident last week on facebook after consulting with his managers and ownership following a restless night. According to the facebook post, an alleged incident with an unruly guest occurred over the previous weekend at the Cambridge, MA restaurant where TS is bar director and partner, and included the following:

  • It was a Saturday night with a 45-minute wait for guests without reservations.
  • The bar that TS was working was slammed.
  • The amatuer Yelp ‘reviewer’ arrived almost an hour late for his 7:15pm reservation.
  • The restaurant called to confirm that the guest was still coming, they rescheduled, and he was still late.
  • Upon arrival, the GM told him he would seat him as soon as possible, and welcomed him to have a drink at the bar.
  • TS offered to serve him full dinner at the bar, apologized for not being able to seat him immediately, and offered him a round on the house.
  • The guest hurled multiple insults at TS, including, “Are you dumb, are you blind, what the f**k is your problem, you skinny Asian?” called the GM fat, and asked for a “manly, real drink.”
  • The guest repeatedly threatened TS with a bad Yelp review if he didn’t get his way, and eventually was thrown out of the restaurant by the GM for his abusive behavior.
  • The guest was a well known college professor. His picture was included in the facebook post, which has since been deleted.

Here is the gem of a Yelp review that followed:

Screenshot_20171109-143012 (3)

The review remained intact for at least a day, was edited by the reviewer (removing the insults), then was taken down. It isn’t clear if the reviewer removed the review or the Yelp moderators did after it was flagged. I sent a screenshot of the original review to DH, the Business School professor who wrote it, along with the following email:

Hello, DH- I’m doing some research for a blog post. I’d like to talk with you about this Yelp review of CAS restaurant that has since been modified. Specific items I’d like to discuss:

  1. Your responses to bartender’s accusations (I have a list).
  2. Your responses to manager’s comments on Yelp.
  3. Your use of the following in your review:

– “Fat guy”

– “That fat guy doesn’t even have eyes in his fat ass.”

– “…different weight class I guess though fat guy probably never heard of mma tricks etc.”

– “Avoid CAS for safety and sanity.”

– “Anyone else can do better than those bastards.”

4. Any additional comments you would like to add?

I sent the email 3 times, left 3 voicemails at DH’s office, and sent him 3 facebook PM’s for comment with a deadline of Sunday night at midnight. To ensure that he received the emails, I dropped a copy at the School of Business building where his department is located on Sunday indicating that I would hold off on publishing this blog post until noon on Monday, 11/13.

NBC Boston reported on the incident, and in their video quoted a statement from Ken Freeman, Dean of BU Questrom School of Business, “We are aware of an inappropriate Yelp review posted by a member of our faculty. It does not represent our views and values. We are extremely disappointed by this occurrence.” There was no mention of disciplinary action or an apology from professor DH.

I know bartender TS personally, he’s a true gentleman, extremely gracious and hospitable, as well as excellent at his craft. When I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon, he had no interest in seeing DH lose his job. However, the 17+ year industry veteran was adamant about protecting his co-workers and restaurant industry colleagues, and sending a clear, strong message to customers that abuse of service industry workers, or anyone, is not ok. “This isn’t about me. I’ve taken a lot worse abuse over the years. I can take it. I was more upset that my co-worker was being insulted. I think it’s important to stand up and protect our own people and our industry brothers and sisters–to raise awareness and let people know that Yelp threats, and unacceptable, abusive behavior will not be tolerated. I just want it to stop.”

As of our conversation, TS had not been contacted directly by anyone at BU, including professor DH.

I will update here if  anything noteworthy develops.

Please note: I used initials instead of full names to protect the individuals involved from future Google searches. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post (To Shame or Not to Shame?), in most cases, I don’t support public shaming.

From Trader Vic’s book, Food and Drink:


Permalink | Posted in Customer Hall of Shame | 4 Comments »

Stop Faking Service Dogs-Wes Siler-Indefinitely Wild: Outside Magazine

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 8/31/2017

Fake service dogs are the new allergies…

Neil Swidey’s comprehensive piece, Why food allergy fakers need to stop for the Boston Globe Magazine earned him a 2015 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. From the highly-acclaimed piece:

BEFORE WE GET INTO IT, let me make one thing clear. This intervention is not aimed at those with life-threatening food allergies or similarly grave medical conditions. I would never question people whose faces will balloon if they ingest trace amounts of shellfish. Or people who risk going into anaphylactic shock with a whiff of peanut dust. Or people whose ingestion of a smidge of gluten will send their bodies on an autoimmune witch hunt that over time will eat away at the lining of their small intestines and potentially lead to everything from infertility to cancer. Those problems are very real, and everyone who is afflicted with one or more of them has my sympathy.

I’m talking about the rest of you. Those of you who don’t eat garlic because you detest its smell or avoid cauliflower because it makes you fart or have gone gluten-free because you heard it worked wonders for Jennifer Aniston or Lady Gaga or Dave, your toned instructor from spin class.

I know you want your dietary preferences to be taken seriously, and you think invoking the A-word is a harmless little white lie. But you have no idea how much trouble you’re causing and how much you’re helping to erode hard-won progress for people with genuine allergies and disorders.

Today’s guest post from Wes Siler for Outside’s Indefinitely Wild blog, makes a similar appeal to fakers who put people with real disabilities at risk.

Stop Faking Service Dogs

Loving your pet too much is putting people with real disabilities at risk.

It’s time to stop falsely claiming that your dog is a service animal and to stop bringing pets into restaurants, onto planes, and to other places where only service dogs are permitted.



Here in famously pet-friendly Los Angeles, I encounter dogs that are blatantly not service animals on a daily basis. Recently, during a morning visit to my local café, I laughed when a woman whose tiny dog was thrashing around at the limits of its leash and barking fiercely at other customers loudly proclaimed that it was a service animal. “It’s my service dog,” she said to me, scowling. “You’re not allowed to ask me why I need it!”

Data backs my anecdote up. A study conducted at the University of California at Davis found that the number of “therapy dogs” or “emotional support animals” registered by animal control facilities in the state increased 1,000 percent between 2002 and 2012. In 2014, a supposed service dog caused a U.S. Airways flight to make an emergency landing after repeatedly defecating in the aisle. A Google News search for “fake service dog” returns more than 2.2 million results.

This has recently led state governments to try and curb the problem through law. In Massachusetts, a House bill seeks to apply a $500 fine to pet owners who even falsely imply that their animal may be a service dog. In California, the penalty is $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Twelve states now have laws criminalizing the misrepresentation of a pet as a service animal. That’s good, but with all the confusion surrounding what a service dog actually is, there’s less and less protection for their unique status.

A new bill introduced to the Senate this summer by Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin threatens to add to the confusion even more. If it becomes law, you’ll be able to take any animal on a plane simply by telling the airline that it’s an ESA. Alarmingly, the bill seems to include ESAs in its definition of service animals.

Look, I get the desire to bring your pet along with you everywhere you go. My dogs are as important to me as my friends and family. The first criteria my girlfriend and I apply to where we eat, drink, and travel is whether our dogs can enjoy it with us. But out of respect for the needs of disabled people, for the incredible work that real service dogs perform, and for the people managing and patronizing these businesses, we will not lie. We do not take our pets places where they’re not welcome. We never want to compromise the ability of a service dog to perform its essential duties.

As an animal lover, don’t you want the same thing?

What’s a Service Animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act limits the definition of a service animal to one that is trained to perform “work or tasks” in the aid of a disabled person. So, while a dog that is trained to calm a person suffering an anxiety attack due to post-traumatic stress disorder is considered a service dog, a dog whose mere presence calms a person is not. The act states, “dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

That same law makes no requirements or provisions for any registration, licensing, or documentation of service animals. It also prohibits businesses or individuals from asking a disabled person for proof that their dog is a service animal. In fact, the ADA permits only two questions to be asked of people with service animals: Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? What task is the dog trained to perform? That’s it. No inquiry can be made about the nature of the disability and no proof can be requested, nor are there any licenses or documents to prove a dog is a service animal.

Emotional support animals (let’s just use that as a catchall for any dog that provides comfort but does not perform a specific task) are specifically excluded by the ADA, and access for them is not provided by that law. Businesses and similar entities are left to define their own policies. Amtrak, for instance, does not consider ESAs to be service animals and does not permit them to ride in passenger areas on its trains.

Because ESAs provide benefit by their mere presence, there’s no burden of training for them like there is for a service dog. The presence of untrained, or poorly trained dogs in public places, and on crowded airplanes can lead to significant problems. In June, an ESA aboard an airplane attacked the human seated next to it, resulting in severe injury.

So where’s the confusion come from, and why are there so many pets on airplanes these days? The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) does recognize ESAs and mandates that they be allowed on planes. It also goes further to place a burden of proof on owners of both service animals and ESAs.

“Another dog once spent an entire flight barking at my dog,” relates Randy Pierce, who’s been totally blind for the past 17 years. “My dog was not barking back, but the barking was changing her behavior. That makes it harder for her to do her job; she loses her focus. I’m 6’4″, so if she loses her focus, it means I’m going to hit my head on an exit sign or a doorway or, if we’re on a street, maybe even step out into traffic.”

I also spoke with my friend Kent Kunitsugu, whose 12-year-old son, Hayden, suffers from epileptic seizures. Their dog, Lola, is trained to smell the sweat associated with an oncoming seizure, alert Hayden and his parents, and then lay across him during a seizure to comfort and protect him. “We often have to ask people to get their pets away from ours, because it’s a distraction, and the dog needs to pay full attention to my son,” explains Kunitsugu. “People think we’re being assholes, but we can’t afford a distraction.”

Pierce’s dog, Autumn, completely ignores other dogs, doesn’t beg for food, sits quietly for the duration of long flights, and generally minimizes her impact. That’s the result of lots of money—service dogs cost upwards of $20,000—and thousands of hours of training. Pierce, for example, has developed a routine with Autumn that involves the dog communicating when she needs to go to the bathroom, and then doing so in a specific orientation to Pierce that enables him to easily find it and collect it in a baggie. A true service dog is essential to its human partner’s well being, as well as a huge financial investment that other untrained dogs in public places put at risk.

The increasing presence of ESAs on flights, and in businesses has also combined with confusion around the law to create a backlash that’s impacting true service dogs, in addition to pets.

“On that flight, I overheard the flight attendant remark to her colleague that she wished they wouldn’t allow service dogs,” describes Pierce. His disability is obvious, but that’s not always the case for people who need service dogs, and those with disabilities already find going out in public difficult and intimidating. Fake service dogs are giving real ones a bad reputation.

Quantifying Fake

You can order service dog vests, tags, harnesses and other paraphernalia on Amazon and countless other websites. Dozens of websites and services claim to offer registry, certification, licenses, or other documentation for service dogs—all scams, as the ADA neither defines or requires any such proof.

To take your emotional support animal on an airplane, all you need is a letter from a licensed mental health professional that’s on letterhead, signed, and less than a year old. You can buy those online for a few bucks: news investigations have found psychologists offering to sell them to otherwise undiagnosed clients. Heck, most of us could probably counterfeit one using Photoshop.

“In order to be a service dog, that dog has to be trained to perform a task, and there has to be a recognized disability,” explains Pierce. “I’ve met a lot of people who tell me this is their emotional support animal, but what they’ve just told me is they don’t understand the law.”

Pierce is frustrated that the law is so vague, often misunderstood, and simply used as an excuse to bring pets somewhere they don’t belong. Because you can only ask if a person with a service dog has a disability and what tasks the dog is trained to perform, most businesses and other services simply don’t question service dogs at all. And most people with emotional support animals don’t realize that their pets aren’t actually guaranteed equal access by the ADA, or any other law, outside of air travel.

Really the only mechanism available to legitimate service dog owners is to sue a business that denies them access, which just worsens the problem. “The owners of most places are intimidated,” says Pierce. “They don’t want a lawsuit on their hands for being wrong, and they don’t know what their rights are, so they don’t ask questions.”

Animal Lovers Must Unite

We find ourselves in a society that requires you to present a diagnosis of mental illness (or soon, just a verbal claim of such) if you want to safely fly with your dog. The system is broken.

In 2014, 25,000 emotional support animals boarded Jet Blue flights alone. Why isn’t there an airline that offers safe transport for pets? Or specific pet-friendly flights on certain popular routes?

And why aren’t there more dog-friendly restaurants, bars, music venues, and other businesses? There are nearly 90 million pet dogs in this country. That’s a huge market, but also a huge problem when us owners act inappropriately. As animal lovers, creating and supporting dog-friendly businesses should be our priority. Acting selfishly to the detriment of others will not create a more dog-friendly future. We want to be able to take our dogs to more places, more often, but we have to make sure doing so is appropriate and doesn’t infringe on the rights and well-being of people who need real service dogs.

The American Kennel Club offers a Canine Good Citizen certification after a formal process of testing and training good behavior. If you want to bring your dog into a café, why aren’t you being asked to produce evidence of that, rather than falsely stating that the business owner has to permit your emotional support animal?

“Instead of looking at ourselves as service dog users and faux service dog users, I like to think of all of us as dog lovers,” says Pierce. “When you look at it from that perspective, they’re not mutually exclusive. How do we make sure all our animals are able to succeed?”

Wes Siler

Wes Siler runs IndefinitelyWild, Outside’s lifestyle column telling the story of adventure-travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there, and the people we meet along the way. You may recognize Wes from such websites as Jalopnik, Gizmodo, and Hell For Leather, where he used to review cars and motorcycles, and share his various misadventures, outdoors and otherwise. Wes lives in LA with his dog, Wiley.

IndefinitelyWild is an outdoors lifestyle blog on @outsidemagazine brought to you by @wessiler and friends.

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