The record of the first season of beer/wine licensing for Tisbury restaurants conforms to the expectations of most reasonable townspeople.
As we report this morning, town leaders saw few, if any, complaints and no significant problems with restaurant owners, managers, or patrons.
Business owners have been anxious to comply with rules and to seek help in interpreting them and meeting the standards.
“Some of them had to do with interpreting the regulations, some of them required some clarification, and some of them required an explanation of paperwork,” executive secretary John Bugbee told Times writer Janet Hefler, “but there was nothing egregious and nothing that couldn’t be addressed with a quick conversation about what is acceptable and unacceptable under the regulations.”
Police Chief Dan Hanavan reports no official complaints and no specific incidents reported and documented in police records.
What facts there were available for voters when they decided to allow beer and wine sales were contained in the report of the excellent committee to consider the alcohol question, wisely established by Tisbury selectmen years ago, when the first effort to allow beer and wine sales was mounted, but failed.
The committee reported no calamitous forecasts from town leaders or safety officials. Indeed, there was no factual basis or widely held opinion, only sentiment, supporting the notion that this was a dangerous choice for the town to make.
The only challenges to the conclusions reached by the committee were unsupported allegations that the committee members were beer and wine sales enthusiasts to begin with. Then there were the suggestions that because one current selectman has a financial interest in an Edgartown restaurant and another is in the lodging business in town, they could not be trusted to make disinterested, responsible decisions about the beer/wine question or the licensing of restaurants.
And finally, there was the similarly unsupported suspicion, advanced as conclusive, that the selectmen would not, in their administration of the licensing, act in the best interests of the town as a whole. These were slurs, not serious arguments. And they have proven, on the basis of this first few months of beer and wine sales, to be as baseless as reasonable people thought they were. Town officials and business owners have proven themselves conscientious stewards of this valuable opportunity and as devoted to the interests of the town as a whole as the beer and wine sales critics were.
The view here remains that allowing limited beer and wine sales was a wise move by Tisbury voters.
Managed according to rules carefully tailored by the selectmen to fit the kind of town Tisbury is, beer and wine sales will be a convenience to town residents, an enhancement to town visitors, and a modest boost for town businesses, all without changing Tisbury significantly, except perhaps for the better.