Date posted Thu Aug 12, 2010
Sugar Heaven in the Back Bay of Boston, MA opened in late March 2010 next door to where I work and I could not have been any happier. I remember when I noticed they posted the sign about ‘Outdoor Seating’ coming soon. They set up a wrought iron type of fence with colorful butterfly like benches and tables inside. It was sweet and people that bought ice cream from their downstairs ice cream parlor would sit outside and enjoy the summer days and nights.
The outdoor seating of Sugar Heaven was a little different than the usual seating you would see on Boylston Street, but nothing offensive. It was attractive, similar to the gardens in front of the Old South Church when the extra large flowers and plants grow. People stop to look and smile. Sugar Heaven store manager, Elise L’Herault has also said that the furniture has been been good for business because it hints to the type of store and confections inside.
However, the Back Bay Architectural Commission does not share the same sentiments. According to the BBAC the outdoor seating is deemed “inappropriate” and the guidelines for outdoor furniture state that it must be, “High-quality, durable materials such as metal, or wood seats and backs on metal frames, are preferred. Dark colors and finishes are recommended.” The current furniture is also not the original furniture design Sugar Heaven submitted to the Architectural Commission, which they did approve. Turns out the original furniture, which was a more restrained design, was not available when the owner tried to order it, so he chose the current furniture instead. When it arrived the employees painted it bright colors.
Even after a violation hearing, the committee decided that repainting the furniture black would not make up for their act of inappropriateness. Elise L’Herault understood what the committee was preserving, but, “We want to let the public know there are sort of archaic rules that are dictating business.” By the end of this week the furniture will be removed and there are no plans to replace it. To see a video from WBZ-TV, click here. The below video is from Fox News.
It is too bad the seating is not going to be outside Sugar Heaven anymore because I do not feel as though it did more harm than good. But to be honest and not targeting Sugar Heaven at all, if there are guidelines for anything, then you should abide by them because they are there for a reason. If something substantial changes in any process, you should communicate that change. Painting the furniture black is not a bad idea. It seems more like a ‘punishment’ from the BBAC which becomes a little childish, but I assume they are only demonstrating consequences and setting an example - not surprised. As residents, letting the public know about archaic rules that dictate business in a historical city can be done in different ways depending on how you expect the end to turnout. I wonder what the fate is for those wrought iron butterflies? What I do know is that, if anything, *now* more people know about Sugar Heaven and what they are all about so there is no need to worry there. I have my suspicion that business will not suffer and just the sidewalk out front will be lonely going forward.