The Boston Licensing Board this morning told the manager and lawyer for Rabia's, 73 Salem St., that if they can't keep the North End's pair of wandering violinists out and if servers keep serving diners after 9:30 p.m. and won't wear masks, the place should just shut down.
"This board is not taking any excuses about these violations," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said at an emergency hearing. "This is a public health crisis. ... If you cannot operate safely, you should close down."
Two detectives from the BPD licensing unit visited the restaurant on Friday for a snap inspection after seeing social-media posts about the restaurant, including an Instagram video (see below) the restaurant itself had posted the previous weekend showing a violinist serenading diners, some crowded at the bar, others at a table with at least ten people, with at least one worker not wearing a mask. "Another great weekend here," the restaurant concluded.
Yeah, not such a great weekend, Joyce said. The violations of the state's and city's Covid-19 violations were so egregious it came up at last week at a regular meeting city officials hold about Covid-19 enforcement and the board, which could suspend the restaurant's license, scheduled an emergency hearing for this morning.
"This is an extreme case," Joyce said.
The manager said she didn't know about the violinist showing up at first. Toscano said he's one of two older North End residents who walk around the neighborhood and pop into restaurants, play and hope to get tipped, not somebody hired by the restaurant. "It's not unusual to see them at all," Toscano said.
Wrong answer, Joyce said. It's the responsibility of restaurants to keep wandering troubadours out, to make sure workers have masks on, to stop food service at 9:30 and to not let ten people crowd around a table. Oh, and you can't let people eat at the bar without board permission, which Rabia's doesn't have, she added.
Toscano apologized and said he thoroughly explained the new realities to the manager and that the board will not see Rabia's before it again.
Sgt. Det. William Gallagher said he had a long talk with the manager during his inspection and explained the rules and that "I don't think you see them before you again."
The board could decide later this week what action to take.