The Oak Bluffs select board wrestled with several outdoor dining applications for restaurants gearing up for another summer marred by the pandemic.
In a 3-2 vote, the board approved the Barn Bowl & Bistro for outdoor seating to accommodate 75 people and 22 tables. Board members were split over the increase in seating from the Barn’s application last year.
The Barn’s 2021 outdoor dining application requested 75 seats and 22 tables. Barn co-owner Mike Sawyer told the board that last year he was approved for 48 outside seats and 12 tables, and was later approved for an additional 27 seats by the board of health when he installed tents for the outside seating.
Diane Streett, a Barn neighbor, raised issues with the number of people, amplified music, and litter she heard and saw outside the restaurant last summer.
“They exceeded the number of tables permitted, they had amplified music,” Streett said.
Select board chair Jason Balboni said he understood the difficulty restaurants were facing, but said the barn should have gotten board permission for additional seating last year.
Select board member Ryan Ruley added that the Barn needed to take its neighbors into account. “I know you guys are trying to run a successful business and get through COVID, but part of that is getting through to your neighborhood,” Ruley said.
Select board member Gail Barmakian said that Sawyer and the Barn should only be approved for the 48 outdoor seats, and going beyond that would be “like rewarding for bad behavior.”
In a separate application, the board postponed a decision on outdoor seating for Lobsterville Bar and Grille until seating options could be mapped out for the board.
Owner Leslie Graham requested seating for her restaurant along the walkway next to the harbor, but Balboni and Barmakian were concerned with having seating on the walkway and instead suggested seating in the alleyway.
Ruley and Balboni then offered to meet with Graham at her restaurant and review seating options.
The board also approved applications for Coop De Ville, the Red Cat, and the Links at Martha’s Vineyard.