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Hang-outs: Restaurants, bars, and cafés that attract the entrepreneurial set

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 17, 2012 09:40 AM

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Where in Boston can you drink or dine among the movers and shakers of the innovation economy?

That was the question I've been posing to dozens of entrepreneurs and investors over the last few days. Basically, I wanted to know where they went regularly and were most likely to run into others of their ilk, in Boston, Cambridge, or the 'burbs. I asked 74 people — including venture capitalists like Lucy McQuilken, angel investors like Joe Caruso, and CEOs like Glenn Batchelder, Michael Simon, and Diane Hessan — and got 78 different answers. I tried to include in my sampling people who work and invest in tech, life sciences, and cleantech. I also asked people who work in Waltham, Newton, Needham, Woburn, Somerville, Boston, and Cambridge. But I wouldn't say the mix of industries or locations was precise.

The top spots:

1. Voltage Coffee & Art (Cambridge)

2. Henrietta's Table (Cambridge)

3. Two-way tie between Crema Café (Cambridge) and the Riverbend Bar & Grill at the Newton Marriott (Newton)

4. Naked Fish (Waltham)

5. Meadhall (Cambridge)

(Voltage isn't always as crowded as it is in the picture at right; it was taken during a special event last December.)

And another 15 spots received at least three votes. In order of popularity:

• Johnny's Luncheonette (Newton)

• Firebrand Saints (Cambridge)

• Evoo (Cambridge)

• Legal Sea Foods (Cambridge)

• Seventy @ Third, inside the Westin Hotel (Waltham)

• Starbucks Kendall Square, inside the Marriott Hotel (Cambridge)

• Za (Cambridge)

• Diesel Café (Somerville)

• Flour Bakery & Café (Boston)

• Area Four (Cambridge)

• Four Seasons (Boston)

• Fuji at Kendall (Cambridge)

• Barrington Coffee (Boston)

• Catalyst (Cambridge)

• Andala Coffee House (Cambridge)

Since I last wrote about hang-outs in 2009, a lot has changed. Mainly, there has been an explosion of restaurants and bars in Kendall Square, and also an increase in the number of VC firms with offices there. Many of the places people told me they go — like the Friendly Toast, Catalyst, or Abigail's — weren't open in 2009. And Andala Coffee House in Central has been on the wane among entrepreneurs, ever since the weekly OpenCoffee gathering moved to Voltage.

Where do you tend to bump into other founders, techies, scientists, and investors? Post a comment...especially if you work in the suburbs.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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