There’s Still a Chance for Boston to Become a Late-Night City

The Senate pushed through a proposal to allow eateries and watering holes near the MBTA to stay open longer.


When news dropped earlier this week that a plan to keep Boston’s bars and restaurants open beyond last call had been brushed aside by the legislature, residents and city workers let out a collective sigh.

But officials from Mayor Marty Walsh’s office confirmed that the discussion is certainly not out of the question. “It’s definitely not off the table,” said a spokesperson on Wednesday.

In a sudden turn of events on Tuesday night, as the Senate debated an Economic Development bill that included doing away with the liquor license caps statewide, a provision to extend the hours of operations for bars located near MBTA stops and stations was put forth by Senator Thomas Kennedy. The proposal, which would give the city a more robust nightlife, was slipped into the final package before the legislative body voted it out favorably.

Walsh said extending the hours of the city’s liquor licenses, allowing for a later last call, would be a “huge step forward” if passed. “I appreciate the Senate taking steps to continue our conversation around liquor licensing, and working towards a system that is more in line with the city’s current needs,” the mayor said in a statement.

Senator Linda Dorcena Forry originally proposed the plan in the form of a budget amendment, with the blessing of Walsh, back in May. But when it was dropped in a House and Senate conference committee earlier this week, Kennedy managed to sneak a similar effort onto the Economic Development bill.

If enacted, the proposal would allow Walsh’s Late-Night Task Force to more easily implement a pilot program in city neighborhoods to find out if there’s a demand for a more permanent after-hours venture. “The ability to conduct these pilots in conjunction with the MBTA’s late-night service will give us the most accurate picture as to whether a late-night model works in Boston as it does in other U.S. world-class cities such as New York City and Chicago,” a spokesperson from Walsh’s office said in a previous statement.

The Senate also included language in their Economic Development bill to relinquish the state’s control of the number of liquor licenses a city or town can have at their disposal. The proposal would give Boston 150 extra liquor licenses to distribute to eateries citywide over a three-year period. “The option of having additional liquor licenses is a great asset for Boston’s future economic development, and is essential for the success of our bars and restaurants,” Walsh said.

Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine

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