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Neighbors, South End pizza place clash over late-night service

Alex's Web site offers pizza until 3:30 a.m. - which it shouldn't, board says

Alex's home page promises pizza later than it legally can.

Some residents of a condo building on Washington Street in the South End today asked the Boston Licensing Board to turn back time for Alex's Pizza kitty-corner across the street - back to the midnight closing hours it had until 2019, when the board actually granted it permission to stay open until 3 a.m.

The family that owns the restaurant agreed today to stop serving at 2:45 a.m. - after board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce told them that their 3 a.m. closing time means nobody is allowed into the place after 3 a.m., sharp, and that it needs to stop advertising pizza until 3:30 a.m.

Board member Liam Curran, though, cautioned that even that means the restaurant needs to be more careful and stop taking orders that would otherwise mean running the ovens past closing. "If you only have three people on, maybe you shouldn't take on 50 orders at 2:50 in the morning," he said at the "informational" hearing the board held today to address "quality of life" issues. The nature of the hearing means the board will give the pizza place and its neighbors a chance to work things out before it considers any changes to the license.

Residents complained of endless late-night noise from all the people double and even triple parking on both sides of Washington Street outside one of the few places in all of Boston open that late - car radios cranked all the way up, horns constantly blaring as people blocked in try to get out, greasy paper plates and other trash blowing all up and down Washington and into Peters Park, large, glaring video menus shining across the street.

"They leave their 'Open' sign on at night even when they're closed," one resident added.

Plus, the place was sometimes staying open even later than the not-allowed 3:30 a.m. closing time on its Web site, residents said.

Alex's lawyer, George Jabour, said all the kvetching is coming from just one building, 1313 Washington St., and that other nearby residents love Alex's. But he didn't pursue that argument for long saying the Nassar family, who owns the place, want to work with neighbors to quell the problems. "We're here to work with the neighbors and try to correct anything that is creating any issues with the neighbors," he said.

Besides, he said, the Nassars are a hard-working immigrant family. "Because of the nature of the restaurant business, the only way he can survive and support his family is to work these ungodly hours to survive," he said of the family patriarch, adding that towards 3 a.m., the restaurant's customers are mainly first responders and doctors from nearby hospitals.

He said the restaurant posted a sign asking people not to double park and to respect the neighborhood, but said part of the problem is that residents are allowed to park in the bus lane in front of the pizza place and that, well, you know how those Uber Eats and Grubhub drivers are - they will not be deterred from getting in and out quickly even if that means double or triple parking.

However, one immigrant resident of 1313, and others who said they're the children of immigrants, said the Nassars don't get to play that card - they're not objecting to anybody's immigrant status but to being kept constantly awake in the early morning.

"Often I'm up at 2 or 3 because of some kind of havoc out there," resident Barry Koretz said.

Mary Kelleher recalled one night where somebody laid into his horn for ten straight minutes to try to get people blocking him in to move - right under her bedroom window. It's gotten so bad sometimes she has to sleep in another room, she said.

Peter Friedmann, another resident, said he personally loves Alex's pizza and salad, but that the noise is just too much.

Faina Smith, herself an immigrant, agreed. "It's not we don't like this business, its not like we don't like immigrants."

Citing the parking and noise and what she said was arrogant workers, Joan Attianese would go further - she wants Alex's to just leave. "They don't belong on a residential street," she said. 1313 Washington St. was built in 2002, according to city assessing records; the block of stores that includes Alex's, part of a larger industrial building that stretches to Harrison Avenue, went up in 1920.

Another resident, Liam Brozen, said he doesn't live on the Washington Street side of his building, so has no complaints, but raised his virtual hand to speak because of all the talk about immigrants.

"This has gotten really weird about immigrants and racism and I'm not really sure what's going on here," he said. "It's just some weird stuff, I'd like it if we don't say that."

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Comments

Its full of loser homeowners who have way too much say in how businesses in their neighborhood operate. There's no late night food anywhere and the residents who are ok with it won't be turning up at the meeting because they'll go there every once in a while after a night out. City that always sleeps.

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Voting closed 90

On the one hand, no, I wouldn't like having horns blaring outside my window at 3 a.m. (then again, we didn't chose to live on Washington Street in the South End).

On the other hand, maybe if Boston had more than one late-night pizza place (New York Pizza on Tremont is open until 3, but only Thursday through Saturday), this wouldn't even be an issue - like those first pot shops that had lines that stretched forever until more pot shops opened up.

But, of course, this is the City that Always Sleeps, and it gets very cranky when its snoozing is interrupted, so this will never change.

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Voting closed 119

Speaking as someone who grew up in Manhattan and spent high school living above a subway stop and across the street from stores and a hospital, and now lives right off Rte. 9 and a block from a fire station...

People may have chosen to live on Washington Street in the South End, but they made that choice expecting things to close down by midnight. It's unfortunate that we can't expect drivers to be reasonable about not blaring radios at 2 a.m. or honking their horns for 10 minutes at a time or not parking in other cars. GrubHub/UberEats definitely exacerbate the problem.

Yes, it would definitely help if there were more places open at that hour. OTOH, it also seems that the owner is violating the terms of their permit if they are advertising that they are open until 3:30. I don't blame neighbors for being unhappy.

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Voting closed 41

OK so when Adam leaves in in-line comment he's pissed.

I dont live currently within the city limits so my opinion matters as much as a hill of beans.

But yeah this shit just gets old. These meetings are just becoming a way for businesses to be squashed like a bug if littles girls screams the loudest.

The people near Alex's live almost at Mass Ave. That intersection and neighboring area is a busy one all hours of the day.

And now the residents are complaining. I'd feel for people who lived there for 10, 20 years and had a right to complain. But if you moved in

It would be like buying a house next to Logan today, and protesting that Massport closes it because its too noisy. The airport has been there for decades....

Better example.. If I rented the unit directly above Cleary's / Brownstone on Columbus @ Dartmouth and begged the licensing board to remove their license because its too loud at night.

I actually LOOKED at this place many years ago, and the realtor almost didn't show it to me cuz I said I worked days because.. "this unit is suited for people who work nights". I didn't get it until a few weeks later after I had moved into my apartment nearby and went out for a walk at night.

You could hear that bar from the Methunion Complex on Columbus (like 2 blocks away). If I went into the licensing board after moving upstairs to Clearys and tried this. I'd be laughed out of the hearing room.

So I cannot understand why these NIMBYs can get away with so much. Clearys is an established business too that has been there forever. But me, new resident would get far more say cuz I bitched.

PS - I'd only be for pulling Alex's license because their pizza is gross. Nothing else.

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Voting closed 17

Up near East Berkeley Street, a short walk from SoWa, Ink Block, and other things that are not quiet or residential.

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Voting closed 22

Alex Pizza is over a half mile from Mass Ave. Traffic there has nothing to do with Washington St. near East Berkeley St.

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Voting closed 12

Absolutely agreed. If there were more places that were open late, then there wouldn't be this ridiculous demand. Additionally, if the T ran throughout the night then there would be less need for cars double- and triple-parking.

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Voting closed 10

If one of the issues is double and triple parked cars, maybe since that is illegal whatever the closing time the police could start ticketing and towing them. It'd be great for traffic and general safety if this was enforced all the time, but if this is an issues here the city has all it needs to deal with that issue, just need to get the police to work.

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Voting closed 38

Why they care about that so much if they are asleep? I assume they would be parked (if they even drove) for the night? It’s technically only a nuisance for other cars on the road at the time

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Voting closed 10

...the double and triple parked cars are one cause of the noise. Like, it's right there in the article if you read it.

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Voting closed 12

Is that hardly anyone from the South End is from the South End. Thus a suburban raised mentality takes over. Roll up them sidewalks at 10.

Thanksgiving weekend in the 90's you could drag race down some streets with another car next to you and you wouldn't hit anything since everyone was back in Islip or Altoona. Plus ca change....

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Voting closed 30

Not everyone who's born and raised in the city supports people outside their window making noise all night.

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Voting closed 24

With an mandated first floor retail use....Guess what happens?

There are only so many throw pillow stores that can be supported.

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Voting closed 33

Fixing the parking problem, enforcing the traffic laws, and allowing more restaurants to stay open late are all reasonable solutions.

They don't need to close the place.

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Voting closed 22

Making this city actually like a city would fix a lot of this.

As yet another UHubber who's lived in NYC, I'll also say there are a lot of things that work better when cities are being cities.

If a lot of stuff was open later, people wouldn't be driving there from other neighborhoods to get pizza.

And if we made driving a lot less convenient and made walking/biking/transit a lot better, there'd be fewer of these car issues. Enforce parking violations immediately and consistently like NYC does (they also kind of suck at bike-lane enforcement though -- Boston needs to start enforcing bike-lane violations). Make it so people aren't driving to downtown areas thinking they'll just pull over wherever.

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Voting closed 13

I wouldn't want horns blaring outside my window at midnight either. Nor at any other time of day.

It sounds like the solution to the parking fiasco is to fix the parking regulations. Instead of meters which become unrestricted at 8 pm, maybe there should be a 10-minute loading zone during the hours the place is open.

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Voting closed 19

Alternatively allow more late night places to open so every single person desperate for hot food late at night isn't going to the same 3 places and causing traffic problems.

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Voting closed 36

Why not both, and more besides?

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Voting closed 7

Citing the parking and noise and what she said was arrogant workers, Joan Attianese would go further - she wants Alex's to just leave. "They don't belong on a residential street," she said. 1313 Washington St. was built in 2002, according to city assessing records; the block of stores that includes Alex's, part of a larger industrial building that stretches to Harrison Avenue, went up in 1920.

I really like when Adam does these subtle little twists to highlight absurdity. :)

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Voting closed 43

which has had 24-hour service for decades, you can't complain about it. If, however, you had midnight closing hours all around you when you moved in, and a place suddenly gets permission to be one of the few late-night places open, with all the resulting noise and havoc that creates until past 3am, I think you have a right to complain.

I'm for more places with late-night hours everywhere, so the benefit and burden gets spread around more. The city isn't for people who expect perfect quiet -- these people aren't arguing that car and bus traffic should stop when they want to go to bed -- but this place appears to have been creating unreasonable noise ever since it got its later hours.

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Voting closed 19

The "I was here first" argument stopped convincing me around 2nd grade or so. If that's the rule, it's a good way to prevent any kind of change, regardless of who might benefit.

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Voting closed 18

you suddenly had an obnoxious neighbor move next door to you, blasting music until 3am every night, you would just say, "Well, I can't complain merely because it has been relatively quiet around here for the last 20 years. That would make me an impediment to progress everywhere. I learned in second grade that when stuff like that happens, you just have to suck it up."

GTFO.

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Voting closed 15

Oh, please. If an obnoxious neighbor moves in, you can act like a normal human being and say "Wow, this new neighbor really sucks, they're disobeying noise ordinances and being inconsiderate of others!" But if you instead say, "I've lived in this building for 20 years so I have a specific right to quiet because I was here first!" then yeah, you sound like an asshole. The issue isn't some nonsense about your seniority in the building, the issue is the noise.

Did I help spell it out for you?

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Voting closed 4

Oh, please. If an obnoxious neighbor moves in, you can act like a normal human being and say "Wow, this new neighbor really sucks, they're disobeying noise ordinances and being inconsiderate of others!" But if you instead say, "I've lived in this building for 20 years so I have a specific right to quiet because I was here first!" then yeah, you sound like an asshole. The issue isn't some nonsense about your seniority in the building, the issue is the noise.

Did I help spell it out for you?

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Voting closed 6

Instead of abusing your obtuseness again, allow me to try to clarify.

It's the same point I made years ago in regard to the rich dicks that moved across the street from the South Street Diner, and then tried to get the city to revoke the 24-hour service license it had operated under since the 1940s. Similarly, the rich douches on Upton Street in the South End that tried to get halfway houses relocated because it "Didn't fit the character of the neighborhood", when those essential services had been operating there for decades before the Exurban Johnny-Come-Latelys moved in.

It's, "Understand and respect your environs before you move to a neighborhood, especially if you're buying." If it was already there when you moved in, it's hard to kick about it. But if the City makes a change that adversely alters the character of the neighborhood -- e.g., giving one business the right to operate till 3am, unlike any other place for miles around, and that generates a harmful noise problem -- then you have a right to complain. It's not, "My seniority here means I can ensure that nothing ever changes," but, "Newcomers ought to be reasonably respectful of their neighbors."

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

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Voting closed 3

One of the first big licensing stories I did involved people living in a new condo building near there who wanted its hours cut back because of all the supposed noise. The board duly held a hearing, none of those people showed up, but plenty of people who lived in other buildings attended to say that they had moved there in part because of the diner, that it was part of the real-city experience they wanted. The board promptly voted to leave the diner's hours alone.

I can certainly see the point that if you move to A and then B starts up, that's not the same as moving next to a pig farm (pig farms are what the zoning board uses as an exmaple) or a diner or an airport or whatever. And maybe there's a compromise to be reached here (other places with licenses hire police details for later hours; that might prove too expensive for a pizza place all the time, but maybe on Fridays and Saturdays?

But calling that stretch of Washington "residential" and demanding a pizza place just go away? Might be just a tad extreme.

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Voting closed 21

dating back to the 1600s and 1700s when it was the only way into Boston, through Roxbury Neck, and continuing well into the 1980s when the elevated Orange Line ran on top of it. It has never been a minor residential street.

This is not the place to live if you want quiet tranquility.

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Voting closed 34

Washington Street has always been a major artery

I don't think the "artery" bit is the problem. It's when they stop.

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Voting closed 7

Doesn't the Silver Line, SL4 and SL5, stop running shortly after 1 am, which would make parking in the bus stop a non-issue during the wee hours?

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Voting closed 11

It's also a bike lane.

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Voting closed 6

Ban cars.

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Voting closed 14

Now that's something realistic that can be done very soon!

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Voting closed 7

With all due respect, the people complaining sound like some old f*cks. You live in a busy city intersection, there's a fire & police dept like a block away, there will be noise.

Like many have said, they should open more late night spots if the traffic is that bad, people are awake and hungry, the city should allow more options. Boston should start acting like a thriving metropolis.

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Voting closed 23

The lack of food is also a hazard.

So much better if people closing down the bars can go get a slice before heading to a car to drive home.

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Voting closed 21

...is stuffing yourself full of pizza after the fact (that you got from a shop that you probably drove to, mind) really going to fix the problem?

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Voting closed 4

When I was a hotel night manager in Back Bay, I absolutely LIVED for Alex’s. They were the only place IIRC that could bring me a salad or a sub and some mozzarella sticks at 4am, and for that I was always grateful.

People who live in the city (especially such a built-up neighborhood) need to stop whining about street noise. If you want 24/7 quiet, there are some towns in the Berkshires that should fit the bill.

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Voting closed 32

There are actually a fair number of spots right in the city limits where you can enjoy all the peace and quiet you can stand.

Maybe not in the South End, but you still get to vote for mayor, try to get your kid into BLS, etc., and yet enjoy a mostly serene existence (although where we are, we sometimes have to listen to golfers yelling "Fore!" down the hill on the golf course; and time was if we got up early, we'd have to listen to that rooster up on Metropolitan Avenue, but that's OK, I've learned to live with inconveniences like that).

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Voting closed 10

About as eloquent as the speech in Billy Madison.

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Voting closed 4

she wants Alex's to just leave. "They don't belong on a residential street,"

WASHINGTON STREET! IN THE SOUTH END! The building the resident lives in is 500 feet away from a FORMER POWER PLANT NEXT TO A MAJOR HIGHWAY. "Residential street" well shit, might as well close the whole city down. All restaurants must relocate to Newmarket Square and Widett Circle, or the middle of Franklin Park as to not be near residences.

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Voting closed 24

better part of the last 20 years, and that particular hotspot aside, it's not especially noisy aside from normal car/truck/bus traffic on Washington, which no one is complaining about. You live near the Franklin Cafe (or further away, Anchovies or Wally's), you're going to get some noise from inebriated people spilling out onto the street at their rare 2am closing times, but those bars encourage patrons to be courteous, and it's a thing of ten minutes for the people that live closest to it (and knew what they were dealing with when they moved nearby, as those places have been in operation with those hours for decades.)

This ain't that, and while it has never affected me personally, I totally get the people who maybe moved into that condo across the street 20 years ago and are nonplussed to now have a drunken car-horn party every night out front at 3am. That kind of wee-hours noise is not typical of *anywhere* in the South End, and suggesting that it be tamped down isn't an oppressive clampdown on the entire city's access to 3am snacks. That's already in place thanks to our local licensing authorities. Forcing the burden of that noise onto one city block here or there is something I too would kick about if I lived on one of those blocks.

As I said before, I'm in favor of opening up late-night hours everywhere. Until that happens, I'll have some empathy for the folks unlucky enough to live by the few places that are allowed to stay open very late. It's easy to be in favor of something that benefits you but of which you bear none of the uglier costs.

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Voting closed 16

the quotation I selected was calling for the business to not exist at all in the neighborhood. It has nothing to do with the wee hours of 3AM, they don't want it there at 1pm or 6pm either. Because it's a "residential" neighborhood.

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Voting closed 13

more commercial buildings on that stretch than residences, and has been that way for probably a century. By that crazy argument, you'd have to close a dozen-plus nearby businesses.

Further, by the standard of, "Was it there when you moved in?" I can attest there was a pizza place in Alex's spot (the late, beloved Rossini's) before that condo building existed.

But to reiterate to all the people who don't live in the neighborhood and are saying, "Hey, you moved to a city: expect noise", Alex is clearly generating a noise level that is abnormal for the wee hours of the South End. Cars, trucks, buses, sirens, passing pedestrians, dogs barking, the odd car alarm, a tree full of brawling raccoons? Sure, welcome to the main thoroughfare of a dense urban neighborhood. Blaring car horns at 3am on a regular basis? That's egregious.

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Voting closed 6

that's easily solved if the cops in this city were willing to do any actual work.

You have a known hotspot for dangerous/noisy double parking and noise violations? Great, station a cop there for a week or two and give out a bunch of tickets for those things and watch as people quickly learn not to do that. Heck, with the money you'd make in ticket fees, it'd probably pay for itself.

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Voting closed 13

will be the first time in my entire life.

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Voting closed 5