Public hearing for Tisbury liquor regulations set for June 6

Restaurants continue to inch their way to alcohol service in Vineyard Haven.

Soon customers may be able to have liquor instead of sake in their scorpion bowl at Copper Wok. —Photo courtesy Copperwok.

Restaurants hoping to begin serving alcohol before the summer crush of visitors descends on the Island will have to wait a while longer.

Tisbury selectmen agreed to hold a public hearing June 6 for liquor regulations at the Katharine Cornell Theater, as they continue to grapple with changes.

Voters approved the ballot question allowing liquor in restaurants more than two week ago, and a large crowd showed up at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting to hear about the newly passed legislation.

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.

The transition is considered a “change of category” for licenses, which the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) handles, called an “all alcohol license.”

There was some confusion about wording in the regulations and the shift from beer and wine to include alcohol. J.B. Blau, owner of Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven, and Josh Goldstein, owner of the Mansion House, clarified the language the state uses. They urged the town align its regulation with wording used by the state, as selectman Tristan Israel went over the regulations with a fine-tooth comb.

“Well, it doesn’t refer to all alcohol, as in all alcohol in the world, it’s referring to the ABCC’s name for it, which is the all alcohol license,” Mr. Blau said.

To serve liquor, each restaurant has to submit an application to the town, and a public hearing must be held and advertised for two weeks prior to the hearing. When selectmen approve the application, it will be sent to the ABCC to change the category of the license to include spirits, a process estimated at one to two weeks. Restaurant owners must also notify all abutters within 300 feet.
There was discussion about how long a seasonal license would last; the current regulations for beer and wine sales state the time period is from April 1 to Nov. 1.
Hours of service currently are from 11 am to 11 pm in the regulations, but several restaurant owners requested the hours be extended to 10 am for brunch service. State law allows service to begin at 8 am from Monday to Saturday. Selectmen agreed to extend service for Saturdays and Sundays to begin at 10 am.
Restaurants also must adhere to the proportions for meals and alcohol sales, a ratio of 65 percent to 35 percent.