Dining in the park is no longer on menu

Beach Road Weekend promoter pulls the plug on big idea for restaurants.

Jocko McCarthy plays catch with his daughter Chelsea at Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. A plan to use the field for outdoor dining has been scrapped. - Kyra Steck

Adam Epstein, a part-time Island resident and promoter of Beach Road Weekend, has pulled the plug on a short-lived idea to offer al fresco dining in Vineyard Haven’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Epstein did not elaborate on his reason during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Tisbury board of selectmen, but simply said when the agenda item came up, “We’re going to take that off the table. It’s not something we can pull off.” 

In a follow-up interview Wednesday morning, Epstein said there was support for the project among restaurants, and he was hearing positive comments, but apparently selectmen were hearing from families with children opposed to the idea.

“[The parents] want to have a place for their kids to run and get outside,” Epstein said. “By putting in a semipermanent installation, they felt we were going to take something away from kids.”

Prior to the meeting, he heard from town leaders about the mounting objections. “[The selectmen] decided they wanted to commit to having that possibility available when it becomes safe and available,” he said of children using the fields. “I’m definitely disappointed. The restaurants we were working with are also disappointed. This was going to be a one-year opportunity in this unique environment.”

Word of Epstein’s outdoor dining idea emerged Friday, and immediately generated feedback from the public — positive and negative. Some people, like selectman Jeff Kristal, praised it as “outside the box” thinking. “This is not summer as usual. This is an out-of-the-box idea,” Kristal said. “I applaud Adam and anyone else who steps forward with this kind of innovative idea.”

Just after the item appeared on the board of selectmen’s agenda posted Friday, Epstein sent out an email blast to restaurants to gauge interest for what he was calling the Vineyard Social at Veterans Memorial Park.

“[The] immediate need is gauging interest, especially by the Island’s restaurant industry [and] by private chefs/caterers now offering curated meals for at-home enjoyment,” the email sent out by Epstein stated.

In a brief conversation about the concept at that time, Epstein said many of the Vineyard Haven restaurants have no room to provide outdoor dining. “This would give them that opportunity,” he said.

Meals would have been served during fixed seating times, which would allow restaurants to plan and deliver meals to the site, he said.

The concept was to set up 50 to 100 18-by-18 foot semi-private dining sites surrounded by low-profile picket fences. Tents would be on hand for inclement weather, and another tent would act as a final staging area for meals.

The goal was to “create a COVID-safe outdoor dining experience for restaurants to offer to their customers” and a “social experience in Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven for local residents and summer visitors to enjoy al fresco dining,” according to the email.

Epstein also suggested a small stage for Island musicians to provide music, movie screens to show films, and a bar and beverage station.

In online comments, some accused Epstein, CEO of Innovation Arts & Entertainment, of attempting to use public property to make money for his company. Epstein explained he was putting up $55,000 for the tables and fences, with no guarantee of recouping the money.

Epstein said that cynicism and skepticism are disappointing. “That’s a pretty regular pattern of attack from people who can’t believe there is something altruistic in what we do,” he said. He said the idea was to help Island restaurants make as much as possible — money they count on to survive the Island off-season, and that’s been severely handicapped by the pandemic.

Previously, selectmen have discussed the idea of closing off part of Main Street for outdoor dining, but that idea hasn’t gained much traction.

After hearing Epstein was no longer moving forward, selectmen chair Melinda Loberg suggested that perhaps the town could put picnic tables in town parks. There wasn’t much comment about that idea, and DPW director Kirk Metell was no longer on the Zoom call when she asked about the possibility.

Moments later, the board discussed Beach Road Weekend, which was canceled for this summer because of COVID-19. The board unanimously approved Epstein’s request to schedule July 16–18 for the 2021 three-day concert, which Epstein said will be called Beach Road 350 in honor of the town’s 350th birthday celebration.


  1. Easy to see why dining in the recreational park is no longer on the menu after the MV times shared results of the poll:
    On Saturday we asked about Adam Epstein’s idea of having outdoor dining at Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven. First we asked if restaurant owners would be interested in participating: 29.4% said yes, 52.9% said no, and 17.6% said it would depend on safety precautions.

    • Its scary (and a serious statistical error in) how you ignore the resoundingly positive results of survey of the general public’s interest simply because they don’t match your bias. You ignore the data that does not reinforce your opinion, and conveniently choose to not share it. That would be the same unethical procedureal error as if you were a prosecuting attorney who withheld evidence. I guess that you’re saying you would resort to using “alternative facts” to get what you want. Great way to govern. You must have learned that from KellyAnn.

      The undisputed facts about the survey of shows that over 450 people responded to the question of whether they’d be interested in an outdoor pavilion with food from many island chefs. Of those 450 respondents, 79%+ or 248 said they would they would definitely do it. Another 23% (107 respondents) said they would attend if proper safety precautions were assured. less than 25% (99) said they would not be interested.

      So, less than 25% of the people tell the other 75% what is acceptable? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the way our system of government is supposed to operate. It should not be “win at all costs,” we must follow a “majority leads” approach in a democracy. its basic civics.

      Next time you try to use data, please present the whole story, not only the side that supports your opinion. its the only effective way to make policy and gain consensus.

      As far as the restaurants involvement goes, the four restaurants who i spoke to supported us as long as they did not have to put their own financial resources into the program. That is why i was building a digital ordering platform, had agreed to handle all food pickup and delivery staffed by islanders, with entertainment provided by islanders, and money generated for islanders.

      All profits were going to support good causes. 50% of the profits were designated for youth recreational sports and the other 50% were earmarked for getting the less fortunate access to MV concert series events and the 2021 Beach Road Weekend music festival.

      But you never asked anyone before you attacked. You didn’t care about facts or data. All you cared about was the sport of online bullying. Congratulations. you’ve made a great impact on the lives of your fellow islanders with your vitriol and alternative facts.

        • Sorry. No partisan intent. It’s just that it was kellyann Conway that coined the term “alternative facts,” and I need to give credit where it’s due.

        • LISA 22– yes , Kellyann Conway– the white house spokesperson that lies about everything, spins everything, and coined the term ‘alternative facts” She has lied, — let me say that agian — she lies nearly every time she opens her mouth. I am sorry , Lisa, but if calling out a liar is “partisan” I can only say that the democratic principals this country is founded upon are in trouble. To allow the likes of a lying white house spokesperson to go unchallenged , and to allow the lies of a president to go unchallenged is an affront to the very fabric of our democracy.. If we let it go too far, we will find people praising our president for gassing peaceful protestors so he can cross the road ( why did the chicken cross the road you have to ask — to have a bible photo op –) after emerging from his bunker and posing for a photo op. if you look at that picture of the one time trump holds up a bible, you will see that he is holding it upside down and backwards. — Back of Bible is facing us, tassels are at the bottom of the book.
          No, Lisa, it is not partisan, it is just pointing out stupidity, lying , and lack of compassion.

          • Don,

            I applaud Adam Epstein. We need more people like him around, helping. However, the Conway comment was not needed. But it does not bother me.

            “To allow the likes of a lying white house spokesperson to go unchallenged , and to allow the lies of a president to go unchallenged is an affront to the very fabric of our democracy.”

            Indeed. Every politician lies and cheats and you are naïve if you do not agree. For eight years I had your same feeling. If you could produce a study showing that Republicans lie more than Democrats, I would love to examine it.

            Your words are true and apply to everyone on any given political platform.

            I do get quite a kick out of watching so many people in this forum get frustrated with one another over a bunch of saps (every politician) who lie and cheat. Have at it!


      • The far more important number is the number of restaurateurs who want the park.
        They don’t much care for it.

    • sunshine– you’re kidding about the lying, right ?
      While you are correct that all politicians lie about something, sometime, the scale of lies by the trump regime is staggering.
      About the best the Obama haters can come up with is passing around a link to “Obama’s 50 lies”
      which in itself is mostly lies.
      But trump is world class- he is clearly #1 as the world’s most prolithic liar of any world leader– no one else is even close.
      That “K” after “16” does not mean he has “Kind” of lied 16 times— it means he has told 16,000 verifiable lies as president. He can’t help himself. Even when the secret service escorted him to the bunker, at night during a protest in front of the white house, as they were doing their job to protect him, he couldn’t help but lie about it. Why would he do that ? He has a pathological disorder.
      And you defend Kellyanne ? Come on sunshine– put the kool aid down for a while.

      • Don,

        Again, you are a real hoot! I hope you are safe and enjoy this beautiful weekend which is upon us. Celebrate life, no matter what..

  2. Shocking. Vineyard Haven shunning new initiatives that may help local business! In the best of years they roll up the sidewalks at 6 pm.

    • bs– what I find “shocking” here is that I am agreeing with you for the second time in a week 🙂 You are absolutely spot on with your comment about V.H shunning new initiatives. There is a long history. How long did it take to get a glass of wine with dinner ? How long to make Union street one way, the right way ? We still have a building that should have been torn down years ago that we call the school , and food trucks are considered (by some) as “honkey tonk”. No surprises on this one.
      Good try, Adam — don’t give up on us in the future , please.

      • Always love a good dialogue, and really appreciate that you are fair in your assessment that we need not always agree, but at least we’ll argue based on principles and concepts when we do disagree.

        I’d love to help be an asset to help with Tisbury school. I want parents and families to seek out Tisbury as the place to live here because the school is the best on the island. There are great people in that building, who unfortunately are distracted by non-educational issues because of some challenging work conditions.

  3. Some people have ideas to try to help other people out.
    Some people only find fault with things other people try or suggest.
    Some people just yell at the sky and expect change.
    Adam was willing to take a chance to help others out with his own money.
    It was a risk he was willing to take. His idea was thinking out of the box.
    Still, the naysayers shot him down.
    SADLY, some things on this small-minded island never change.
    To all, enjoy your summer of lockdown.

  4. Mr Epstein is very argumentative. Maybe take a lead from successful restaurant moguls like Bleu & Sawyer and other more quiet less prone to controversial business owners like Montero. Just a simple observation in the world of needing us to make you succeed better to remain on the shadows then on the front pages arguing with anyone who presents constructive criticism. best of luck on your next venture

    • Yeah, typical Tisbury response. Shadow dealing and back office shenanigans. No wonder Stop & Shop gave up on dealing with that town. Kudos to Adam for being open and willing to take the hits from the dart throwers hiding in the Tisbury shadows.

      • Island Raised, I don’t see it that way. Some are aggressively going after Adam. Why? He didn’t harm a kitten, he just proposed an idea. No one has to like it, of course, but if we gang up on everyone who endeavors to do something for the Island, fewer people will bother in the future. At least ask him for details before assuming the worst. I feel he’s given specific and calm responses to those who expressed actual concern.

      • Aggressive? You mean, like, “pushy”? Gotta wonder about all this slander, and then the pushback for defending himself AND his solid, community-minded, very good idea. Argumentative? Seriously? This character assassination is why VH has the crappiest Stop and Shop on the planet. It’s what character assassins deserve.

    • Lisa, I completely agree. Mr. Epstein is very argumentative and it’s quite off-putting. He keeps throwing in political references to Trump and KellyAnn Conway which is completely irrelevant… but to each their own I guess. Someone posting the results of the poll showing that the majority of restaurants were NOT interested in participating shouldn’t end in these scathing rants. I wish him luck in the future, but I just don’t want to see him wear out his welcome by bashing folks on here. He’s showing his true colors and it’s not very appealing.

  5. If it’s weren’t for people like Adam trying to throw ideas out there to help the community where would we be?
    All you negative people are welcome to throw your ideas out there to.
    At this point any idea should be welcomed and considered on option.
    That’s the only way a solution will ever be found. Don’t give up Adam there are a lot of us that are on your side for trying to help the people in need.

  6. Adam never answers questions, how about hours of operation for bar and live music, he did say would it not be great to listen to music under the stars, to what time at night would the neighbored have to deal with the noise, and most of the (people) who say how great Adam is for having an idea to make money by opening a bar on public property are sheep. And he rants like a child use to getting his way, like some in our government

    • Teehump-Well- finally someone who REALLY gets it !!!!! I do so much like the sheep part-I have the highest property taxes on the Island and i’m going to let him use the only sports fields in V.H. for him to make money NOT-See how the Edgartown Selectman vote when you should be putting these events in your own backyard -Katama

      • If we must run with the sheep label, I would say it’s more fitting for those who immediately shoot down anything new on MV. Since innovation isn’t exactly welcome here, I fail to see how embracing change could be viewed as the sheep-y position. Bah.

        Also, sheep and sheeple are overused terms that have been spoonfed to some, then repeated without any original thought necessary. Can we talk about why that’s funny? Just once I’d like to see someone say, “You’re all a bunch of Milk Duds because you stick together in the box.” Or whatevers. Just change it up.

    • More whining and personal insults. You still have not addressed a single actual problem with the program. The question about the hours for the beverage tent and music were 4pm-10pm during the Friday -Sunday hours that it would be open. That was in the proposal.

      Have you thought for a moment how difficult it would be to generate enough money to cover the costs of buying all that equipment, hiring all the local staff and managers, designing the food ordering software, and paying for the marketing?

      If you understood how to run a business, you’d see the odds of recouping the startup were against us all the way. You’d also see that vineyard businesses like this do not generate windfalls of cash. There was no master plan to make millions and retire. The profits were being donated to youth Rec sports and low income people to get access to Mv concert series events.

      But instead, you’re continuing your string of personal and toxic insults that only demonstrate your inexperience and ignorance.

      Why don’t you drop the alias, and stand behind your accusations? What are you scared of?

  7. ah, well, everybody from the mainland just loves this island, until they get here and then they want to change it.

    • This has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to change the island. Covid-19 has changed the island– and the entire world. Some people think outside the old, naysayer, and staid box, as way to try to help the dire business situation on the island, and as a way to appeal to a community that is hungry for going out safely. Restaurant dining will not be the same anywhere, for a long, long time. Do you realize how many restaurants and other businesses will not survive this? This was a very good idea. When a person is doing good by wanting to help restuarants and businesses and the community– is dissed by you and charged with untrue nonsense (about wanting to change the island), it is not very “do unto other-y”. Isn’t that what you claim to be about? Or was that only last week when you wanted to promote reconciling with racists?

      • I agree with Jackie. Based on previous posts, it doesn’t seem like he intended for this to be a forever change, and it won’t harm the Island in the meantime. Not exactly a paved-paradise-‘n’-put-up-a-parking-lot moment. It was just a way to work with corona. When so many local businesses are hurting, we can’t afford to be personally attacking those who want to help. Of course feedback is needed, but maybe focusing on pros and cons and questions would be more productive than accusations. Some of the comments directed at Adam have been muggy-July-level grumpy. It’s only June. Gotta pace ourselves. ????

  8. In closing, all I’m going to say is that I do not care at all if it’s me that did this plan. If tisbury wanted to do it themselves and keep all the profits, that’s fine too. In fact, I made that very offer.

    If any of you think that this is going to make a windfall, run with it. I will not object. I’d be right by your side helping if you want it.

    I just thought it was a good idea to help out struggling businesses.

    I’d also say, that if you think I’m making tons of money from these programs and and only out for profit, I’ll hand you the keys, and let you reap the rewards.

    Just because you THINK I’m in it for the money doesn’t make it so. In fact, there have been more comments on this thread than dollars made in the past 12 months.

    The Town and the local businesses can follow the model and generate the $ for themselves. I do not need to be involved.

    • Adam– please note that on this forum there were a majority of people who supported you. we all expressed our opinions. That is the nature of our democracy. Defend yourself against ignorance, but please, don’t be discouraged. You endured quite a bit of of flack about the beach road event– even I expressed doubt about the wisdom of it, but you endured, and it was great. Thank you. You gained a lot of credibility in this community after that event. Take a deep breath, and know that nothing good comes easily.

    • I’m so sorry, Adam. Some of these personal attacks border on something else entirely, something that I am all too familiar with here on the island. That said, most of us do understand you’re a mensch and very much appreciate your ideas.

    • Adam, some can’t tell the difference between enthusiasm and drive and whatever negative intent they whipped up in their minds. It is obvious you’re trying to help, and the idea is a good one. I’m truly sorry you got Island’d. Despite the rumors, this isn’t always the friendliest place, but don’t stop coming up with plans. We need creativity now more than ever. ????✌️

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