Video: El Jefe’s Taqueria Granted Extended Hours despite BU Fears of Police Incidents
Boston Licensing Board greenlights 3 am closing for popular West Campus eatery
Two Domino’s outlets bracketing campus “are both open till 3 am, and BU advertises that they’re open, that students can get pizzas from them until 3 am,” Schall tells BU Today.
“El Jefe’s has been a very good neighbor, and the food is very good,” says Kelly Nee, BU chief safety, security, and preparedness officer. “My concern is that there is nothing open in the area until 3 am.”
Nee says she recommended that the Licensing Board permit an extra hour of operation, to 2 am. In light of the board’s decision to stick with 3, she says, “we will monitor and see how it goes. It is located in Boston Police jurisdiction, but we can certainly assist if an emergency arises.
“As puritanical as I may seem, my number one priority is to keep our community as safe as possible.”
A petition for the 3 am closure posted by El Jefe’s garnered about 1,500 signatures, and “that was absolutely crucial to the Licensing Board,” Schall says. About 600 signatories were students, the rest late-shift workers, who “could have been firefighters and paramedics or hospitality workers.” he says.
Why would you penalize [hundreds of customers] because of the behavior of a couple of drunk knuckleheads?
The petition read in part: “Most nights we have a line of customers at 1 am when we close that we must turn away and can’t serve.” Schall says that on December 15, the first business day introducing the new closing, 50 to 60 customers came between 1 and 3 am, and the next night 220 showed.
The petition said that none of El Jefe’s Boston restaurants serve alcohol and touted the business’ “strong track record on public safety, security and being good neighbors by taking quality of life concerns seriously. We work hand in hand with the Boston Police.”
“We’ve been open until late night in Harvard Square for almost seven years now,” Schall adds, “and we just don’t have issues. It’s not that there isn’t once in a while…people that come in there that have had a little bit to drink; that’s certainly true. But they’re not troublemakers.”
As for the “incredibly rare exceptions to that,” he says, “why would you prevent literally hundreds and hundreds of people every night that legitimately want a place to have healthy, nutritious, inexpensive, great Mexican street food? Why would you penalize them because of the behavior of a couple of drunk knuckleheads?”
Earlier last year, based on similar BU objections, the board turned down Schall’s request for a 4 am closure. The 3 am closing is “a little bit of a compromise on our part,” Schall says, but it still meets a key goal: El Jefe’s employees must linger after closing to spend time on cleaning and next-day prep work before leaving on public transit, which doesn’t start service until 5 am. Serving customers for two additional hours significantly cuts employees’ wait between prep work and catching a ride home.
The chain runs eight restaurants in the Northeast, four in Greater Boston. Besides the BU location, El Jefe’s operates in Harvard Square (closing at 4 am), on Huntington Avenue (closing at 3 am), and at the Boston Common (closing at 2 am).
It’s about time! When I was an undergrad only a few years ago there was almost nothing open late and it would have been so nice to have had a place like El Jefe’s to go to after a late shift or a late night studying. This fills a much needed gap. Dominos pizza certainly has its place, but it is quite unhealthy, not all that good, and nowhere near the quality of El Jefe’s. So happy about this news, even though I no longer live in the area.