The Business of Booze: Worcester's Liquor License Fee Increases 38 Percent
Written by the clever and indefatigable Matt Brown (who manages to come up with pretty interesting stories in this desultory town), the article discusses how Worcester's license commission almost a year bumped up the annual liquor license cost from $2,000 to $2,750.
The increase is squeezing the purveyors of a substance that makes tolerable the fact that one is consigned to live in Worcester--that is, drink enough and you'll forget you're here.
The justification for the increase is laughable if you aren't familiar with the irrepressible attitude of Kevin O'Sullivan, chairman of the commission. I've met Kevin several times and he by God is a believer in Worcester. He's highly energetic, incredibly well connected, and believes strongly in Worcester's prominence as New England's second largest city.
His reasoning is that as New England's second largest city, Worcester should have liquor license fees similar to comparable cities like Boston, Hartford, and Providence. (Aside: I've been to Providence and I work near Hartford. The former is sufficiently attractive so as not to induce residents to want to drink themselves into a stupor to forget where they are; the latter closes down at 5:30 so there's no opportunity to do so.)
Quoted in the article, O'Sullivan says, "... I think Worcester has proven to be business-friendly." Let's review:
- Mass pike pass through Worcester? REJECTED
- Municipal government structure design? UNWIELDY
- Municipal services? REDUCED
- Main Street? HIDEOUSLY UNATTRACTIVE
- Opportunities for newcomers? MINIMAL
If the failure of well-intentioned initiatives to attract, bring and retain businesses Worcester (see "Destination Worcester", "Choose Worcester", etc.) is any indication, Worcester has proven repeatedly that it is NOT business friendly.
With respect to Mr. O'Sullivan, applying perfume to excrement makes the latter temporarily smell nicer. You look at it, it's still shit. Civic pride and blowsy rhetoric aside, the fact is Worcester has a long way to go before it can be considered either within or without the Commonwealth as "business-friendly."
Until Worcester has the kind of services that define world-class cities (like Providence and Boston), it's unfair to charge world class city license fees to hard-working restaurant owners. The increase represents precisely the kind of backward thinking that has relegated Worcester to joke status.
Now where's my drink?