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North End restaurant owners sue Mayor Michelle Wu citing discrimination

BOSTON - A group of five restaurant owners in the North End claim the city is discriminating against them because they are Italian.

The amended lawsuit was filed on Tuesday and names Mayor Michelle Wu as the defendant.

Outdoor dining on Hanover Street in Boston's North End (WBZ-TV) CBS Boston

Last year, the North End was the only neighborhood in Boston forced to pay a $7,500 fee for outdoor dining permits and $480 for every parking space occupied by tables. Restaurant owners said the window for outdoor dining was more restricted in the North End than in other parts of the city. Earlier this year, the city banned restaurants in the North End from setting up tables on the streets. 

"It is commonly known that the traditional owner of a restaurant in the North End of Boston is a white male of Italian descent, and the North End is generally regarded (as) the last true ethnic Boston Italian neighborhood," the lawsuit says.  

The plaintiffs specifically cited the city's All Inclusive Boston Campaign, which aims to highlight neighborhoods, including Roxbury, Chinatown and the South End. The North End said it wasn't represented under businesses. However, the North End is represented in the website's listing of neighborhoods. Under the website's restaurant listings, visitors must click on GBCVB (Great Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau) Partners to find a listing of North End Restaurants.

The lawsuit also states that the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau does not include the North End in outdoor dining options because of the neighborhood's shortened schedule. On the website, there is an article about "Your Guide to the Best Italian Restaurants in Boston's North End," written in December of 2022.

The plaintiffs - Jorge Mendoza, owner of Vinoteca di Monica; Carla Gomes, owner of Terramia Ristorante and Antico Forno; Christian Silvestri, owner of Rabia's Dolce Fumo; and Patrick Mendoza, owner of Monica's Trattoria - said they paid the dining fees, even though they believe them to be a violation of the law, because they needed to remain competitive with other restaurants in the city.

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