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Mayor Martin Walsh announces Late Night Task Force recommendations

Mayor Martin Walsh released the recommendations of the Late Night Task Force Wednesday, which detailed suggestions on how to boost the vibrancy of Boston's late-night scene. PHOTO BY COLIN BELL/DFP FILE PHOTO
Mayor Martin Walsh released the recommendations of the Late Night Task Force Wednesday, which detailed suggestions on how to boost the vibrancy of Boston’s late-night scene. PHOTO BY COLIN BELL/DFP FILE PHOTO

Mayor Martin Walsh announced Wednesday a list of recommendations by his Late Night Task Force to improve the city’s nightlife. The recommendations will help to sustain a safe yet exciting late-night scene in Boston, a press release stated.

In the release, Walsh said the task force, comprised of restaurant and bar owners, business leaders, law enforcement officers and college students, would prove beneficial toward making the city more appealing to its residents.

“In the City of Boston we have an opportunity to create the kind of nightlife that visitors expect in a world-class city,” Walsh said in the release. “I thank all the members of the task force who came together over the course of several months to help us think about how to make Boston a more exciting and engaging place to live, work and play.”

The Late Night Task Force, proposed in May 2014, is in favor of streamlining licensing requirements, permitting establishments to serve drinks on patios without serving food and allowing outdoor live music to be played on patios until a later hour, according to the release.

Rory Cuddyer, co-chair of the Late Night Task Force, said the task force discussed extending the 2 a.m. liquor license cap but can’t act until the state legislature approves its request.

“The tough part about that is that the city can’t act until the state legislature passes a bill giving us the ability to extend those hours, so we just discussed where we would want potential pilot areas to be for establishments to be open past [2 a.m.],” Cuddyer said.

Cuddyer said Boston’s nightlife is likely to stay the same until actions are taken to extend open hours, yet his vision for the near future of the city is positive.

“If these restaurants have the opportunity to stay open later, that’s going to activate the streetscape a little bit more,” Cuddyer said. “Ultimately, what we want is for Boston to be a place where people are excited to be out late at night.”

Cuddyer said it is necessary for the licensing process to be changed in order to make it easier for establishments to get the licenses they need.

“Some licenses come from the Boston Licensing Board, and others come from the Entertainment Licens[ing] board,” Cuddyer said. “If you’re coming in to renew your license, instead of going to two separate boards, you should be able to go to one place in order to get every license that you need.”

Jeffrey Gates, co-owner of restaurant group Aquitaine, said he was concerned about the possibility of simplifying the licensing process.

“While we might not always enjoy licensing and the challenges of it, it is a structure that’s designed to protect both the business and the public,” Gates said.

Gates said he worries about how some of the recommendations will affect Boston residents who live near popular establishments.

“As a restaurant group, we’re always very careful to figure out how out business decisions are affecting our neighbors, because they’re our primary customers,” Gates said.

Several Boston residents were split on whether the task force’s recommendations would benefit the city.

Iga Muradyan, 41, of Kenmore, said she sees room for improvement in Boston’s nightlife and agrees with extending hours for restaurants and bars.

“Change should be implemented,” she said. “I’m from Europe, and what I’ve seen there is that everything is always open until morning. I don’t think it affects productivity or studying in anyway.”

Kirk Stewart, 27, of Allston, expressed satisfaction with the current late-night scene in the city.

“In my neighborhood, there are all sorts of bars that stay open until 2 a.m., and the buses that I need run pretty late, so that all suits my needs,” he said.

Garrett Charette, 23, of Brighton, said he supports the extended closing hours for bars.

“You go to many other cities and all their bars and nightlife extends way past 2 a.m.,” he said. “Boston has had a reputation of not being as crazy night life as everyone would hope so … as far as nightlife and bars staying open much later, I would definitely support that movement.”

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