Hey Boston, if you want to keep startups close, loosen up and stay up late

As Boston gears up for a mayoral election melee — a dozen candidates want to succeed Thomas Menino, who is not running for a sixth term —  tech pundits have some advice to would-be mayors: if they want to keep startups from decamping out west or to New York City, they need to make sure Boston stays up later. 

Compared to New York, in particular, Boston bars and restaurants tend to close way early — 11 p.m. or midnight — and that’s bad for young employees who work late and want to unwind later. Kayak.com co-founder Paul English and Karmaloop founder Greg Selkoe told The Boston Globe that needs to change. Said English:

“New York looks to be the biggest threat to Boston, in terms of stealing entrepreneurs. And the reason New York is stealing from us, is the people who are graduating from Harvard and MIT and other schools think New York is more fun. So the first question you should ask is: How would twentysomethings design this city? Keep restaurants open later, and make sure the T is running late.”

Selkoe pointed out that of all the major public transit systems, the “T” closes the earliest. English proposes that both bars and the MBTA stay open till 4 a.m. Right now, depending on the line, the last T run is 12:30 a.m.

Making Boston into a more of a night owl is not a new proposal; Michael Skok, general partner of North Bridge Venture Partners, advocated the same thing a few weeks ago in GigaOM. Still, a 4 a.m. last call would be a stretch in a town where Puritan-inspired “blue laws” die hard. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the candidates take up this issue for real.  

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user ReneS