West Tisbury opens tap on beer and wine licenses

State Road Restaurant in North Tisbury. — Photo by Bob Gothard

Following a vote at the annual town election on April 12 to authorize selectmen to issue permits for the sale of beer and wine in restaurants for the first time in more than 100 years, West Tisbury selectmen voted 2-1 to approve new beer and wine regulations at their regular meeting April 18.

The new regulations allow for the sale of beer and wine in restaurants with a seating capacity of 50 or more people, as long as it is served with a meal. They also allow selectmen to issue one-day beer and wine licenses for fundraising events, provided the service of such beverages is considered incidental.

Chairman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter voted against the new regulations because he wanted language added to prevent the sale of beer and wine on town property. As written, the regulations do not specifically allow beer and wine service on town property, but they do no prohibit it, either.

The new regulations currently apply to State Road Restaurant, the Lambert’s Cove Inn, and the Plane View Restaurant at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Due to the town’s population, the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) will only allow a maximum of five beer and wine licenses.

Town administrator Jen Rand said that so far, only State Road Restaurant has applied for a beer and wine license. She said the owners submitted the application on April 20, and a beer and wine hearing before the selectmen is scheduled for May 9.

Ms. Rand said that the owners of the Lambert’s Cove Inn are in the process of filling out an application, and that nobody from the Plane View has contacted her yet.

Mary Kenworth, co-owner of State Road Restaurant, said this week that she was grateful to town voters for approving the beer and wine question on April 12. She said there was a ripple of excitement through the restaurant the night of the vote when the news began to trickle in.

“Everyone’s cell phones started to blow up as the word got out,” Ms. Kenworth said. “Everybody was talking about it and there was a buzz in the restaurant… Our customers are really looking forward to this; it really completes the dining experience for them.”

Ms. Kenworth said that the new regulations will allow for better control over alcohol service in her restaurant. “With the old BYOB [bring your own booze] really there was no control over the amount people were drinking,” she said. “This is a much better system. It gives us more control.”

Ms. Kenworth said they are still working on the beer and wine menu, although there will be something for everyone. The wine list will offer something for all types of budgets, and the beer menu will feature local beers and microbrews.

Ms. Kenworth said there are plans to serve draft beer, although she was unsure if that would happen this summer.

The new regulations were modeled after those in Tisbury and Aquinnah, two towns that also recently voted to allow beer and wine sales in restaurants. They will allow restaurants in town to serve beer and wine from 11 am to 11 pm (12 am on New Year’s Eve).

All drinks and glasses must be cleared from the tables by 11:30 pm. The regulations state that the service of beer and wine “shall be secondary to the primary purpose of service of food. Snack foods such as chips, pretzels and the like shall not be considered a meal.”

The regulations state that all beer and wine beverages must be delivered to a table by waitperson and only one alcoholic beverage can be served at a time. The regulations require a public hearing before the selectmen, and the restaurant will be subject to regular inspections by the police.

Application processing fees are $200 and restaurant license fees are $350 annually. The fee for a one-day beer and wine license for fundraisers is $25.