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Boston City Council Votes To Lift BYOB Ban

The Boston City Council took the first step Wednesday toward allowing you to "Bring Your Own Beer" to certain restaurants in the Hub.

The council, by a unanimous vote in its final meeting of the year, struck down a ban that prevents diners from bringing their own alcoholic beverages into restaurants. Mayor Marty Walsh's office and the city's licensing board must now come up with guidelines for how to license restaurants that want to allow customers to bring their own drinks.

At-Large Councilor Michelle Wu said the goal is to help spur economic growth in a safe, regulated way.

"The goal in bringing it here to Boston is to spark neighborhood restaurants — small neighborhood restaurants — by giving entrepreneurs an additional tool to grow their businesses and creating more options for residents," Wu said.

The council also suggested regulations for BYOB licenses, including limiting the practice to restaurants outside of downtown that don't already have regular liquor licenses. The council also recommended limiting BYOB to restaurants with 30 seats or fewer, and those that have waitstaffs.

There would also be limits on how much beer and wine could be brought in. Restaurants would be able to charge a corkage fee and would need to renew their BYOB license annually.

City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley says that while this is an important step, it needs to go further.

"I am keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize — fighting for the City of Boston to have full local control of the liquor licensing process," she said in a statement. The state currently caps the number of liquor licenses city and towns can grant and requests for additional licenses must go before the state Legislature for approval.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Walsh said in a statement Wednesday that the city would "launch a thorough and robust community process in 2016 in preparation to write regulations that once implemented will support small businesses and bring increased economic activity to communities."

With reporting by WBUR's Delores Handy

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