“Shaken or stirred” may be a question townsfolk and visitors have to answer at restaurants in Vineyard Haven. The question of the sale of all alcoholic beverages in restaurants, including restaurants in hotels, will come before Tisbury voters on May 9. Voting will be from noon to 8 pm at the Tisbury Emergency Services Facility at 215 Spring Street.
Residents who are against the sale of liquor say that it will detrimentally affect the community character of Vineyard Haven, with the potential of burdening the town budget with increased costs for enforcement and policing.
Other residents and many business owners believe the greatest economic impact of prohibiting liquor sales is felt in the downtown area — at the hotels, retail shops, and restaurants.
“I think the most important thing is it’s going to allow the restaurants to have a choice that will help them stay more solvent,” John Blau told The Times in January. Mr. Blau, who has been an Island business owner for more than two decades, owns Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven, as well as Sharky’s Cantina in both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, and Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co. and the Loft in Oak Bluffs.
The legislation would expand permission for liquor sales to current licensees, but would not add new licenses. Tisbury could issue a total of 19 restaurant permits, although only a handful of restaurants now operate in the town. Permitted restaurants must have seating for no fewer than 30, and beverages must be consumed with meals, a requirement that would not change if the licenses included liquor sales, selectmen said.
In January, Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation that expanded current beer and wine licenses for restaurants in Tisbury to offer the sale of liquor. Tisbury selectmen voted in February to put it on the ballot for local election.
Voters will also choose between incumbent Melinda Loberg and challenger Jim Rogers for the board of selectmen.