Can an online petition help bring happy hour back to Boston?
In 1984, “Ghostbusters” was on the big screen, “Purple Rain” was on the radio, and a ban on happy hour took effect in Massachusetts. Sound familiar?
But last week, Boston-based startup Cheers — an app that connects groups of friends at bars — decided at least one of those things should change. It launched an online petition to bring happy hour back to the city. It has accrued more than 8,500 signatures, and the plan is to take the petition to City Hall.
Shortly after it started circulating, the petition was retweeted by local Twitter heavyweights Only in Boston and Universal Hub, and it flourished on social media. According to Cheers cofounder Sam Davidson, this is the first political issue the company has taken on.
Davidson usually tries to “avoid stirring the pot,” he said, but he’s tired of seeing Boston lambasted as an “unfun” city. Davidson said reinstating happy hour could help keep young professionals from fleeing Boston in favor of cities like New York or Los Angeles.
“We’ve seen the debate and heard complaints from people about Massachusetts being a little bit stiff and uptight and having some outdated Puritan drinking laws,” said Davidson. “We thought maybe it’s time to bring back happy hour.”
The ban was part of a series of legislative actions seeking to combat drunken driving accidents. It prohibits establishments from serving discounted drinks at any set time. According to Davidson, however, the state undermines its own law by giving casinos a break through the 2011 Gaming Act, which allows casinos to serve free drinks to patrons.
Once the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, Davidson said, he and Cheers cofounder Brian Sachetta plan to present it to Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his Late Night Task Force.
Walsh, who has opposed happy hour in the past, declined to comment.
To sign the petition, go to www.happyhourboston.com .