Tisbury alcohol bill passed by House

The House has approved a home-rule petition that would allow Tisbury restaurants to serve alcohol without food. — Rich Saltzberg

Patrons are a step closer to being able to get a beer or a glass of wine in Tisbury without having to purchase food along with it.

A home rule petition, sponsored by state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, passed the House last week. The bill would allow Tisbury to “eliminate the restriction that alcoholic beverages may only be served with a meal, if approved by the majority of voters as a ballot initiative during an upcoming election.”

In June 2020, town meeting voters approved the home rule petition and sent it to the legislature

It would be the latest change to the town’s bylaws when it comes to serving alcohol. Tisbury first allowed beer and wine in 2009, but only with the purchase of food. Then, in 2017, voters approved a measure to allow all types of alcohol to be sold at restaurants.

“The restaurant industry has been particularly impacted by the pandemic, and this legislation will allow Tisbury voters to decide whether local restaurants can have more flexibility in serving customers,” Fernandes said in the release.

The home rule legislation does still require restaurants to be able to seat at least 30 customers, requires that alcohol sales not exceed 35 percent of gross sales, and prohibits the sale of alcohol after 11 pm.

Select board chair Jeff Kristal is quoted in the release. “The town and the business community are excited to see the progress as this bill moves forward to the Senate,” he said. “We would like to thank our legislative delegation for their efforts in following this through. This has been a very tough business climate over the last 18 months, and to see progress on this bill gives the community a positive outlook for seasons to come.”

The bill now moves to the Senate. 

In a text message to The Times, state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, said no date has been set for the Senate to take up the legislation in the next month. “Home rule petitions of this nature are rather routine, so I expect we would take it up soon,” he wrote.


  1. Well, this should send Tristan over the edge. But in his defense, everything he was afraid of, did happen.

    • Jim — “everything” is a pretty powerful word… Didn’t Tristan think that if any alcohol was served anywhere in V.H it would quickly become the “skid row” of M.V. ?
      And I think he was pretty afraid of a new school .

      • You’re right. I should have said “is happening” I’m sure it won’t be long now before VH becomes “skid row”
        As far the school, I don’t think he was afraid of the school per say, I think he’s just afraid of change.

      • C’mon Don, you are not being constructive at all.Who cares what a retired councilman said in the past ? And who cares about your definition of “everything” being a powerful word or not ? Why not be positive and ADD to the dialog ?

        • eddie– excuse me, but when I referred to a retired councilman’s opinions , I was replying to Mr. Donavan’s comment about a retired councilman’s opinions.
          I don’t really care what anyone thinks about my definition of what “everything” is , but I think that even you might agree that it is a word in the English language that is generally agreed upon.
          Merriam Webster is one of the most resected stewards of the English language. Ok– you can call them “fake words” if you like– 1A right I guess–
          But the generally accepted definition of the word “everything” is
          that it means “ALL” — EVERY– no exceptions.
          Obviously. in the context of this conservation, Jim’s comment about Tristan was incorrect.
          When I use a word here . I try to use use it correctly and put it in context.
          Some words are abused– “always” “never” “everything” “nothing” and so on.
          These words have meaning–
          Always means something different than sometimes.
          Never means something different than rarely.

          Words have power, Eddie–
          Use them carefully.

  2. Why Tisbury is so obsessed with serving booze when they currently harbor a rogue police dept, that “loses” lethal guns and snatches innocent citizens off the street corners to jail, is beyond reason.
    Simply appointing a new police chief is not going to solve the real problems the town faces.
    Having alcohol served is intended to install a little amnesia about the continuing failures of the Board of Selectmen.

    • Not really James. Booze rarely creates amnesia but always does expose truth from the inebriated. Ever hear the age old axiom:”You only hear the truth from Drunks or young children” Maybe a few drinks will expose answers and comments from our VH citizenship to solve some of the police and other clandestine issues ?
      99% plus towns in our country are “wet”. Join the club VH !

    • James– WOW !!!!!! —- WOW !!!!
      Did you consider what you wrote ?
      Do you really think Tisbury is “obsessed with serving booze” ? Did you consider that Tisbury is not “obsessed” with this, but merely providing the means by which a “well regulated” (licensed) business can exercise their FREEDOM to provide a CONSTITUTIONALLY protected service to the community? By virtue of the 18th amendment , people have access to a beverage of their choice that contains alcohol and the CONSTITUTIONAL right to indulge in it . And “well regulated” business have the FREEDOM to serve it to them in a secure, friendly and pleasing environment.

      Did you consider that no where in this article did it mention anything about the police department ? Anything about the the misplacement of a lethal firearm ? Anything about the obviously illegal arrest of an innocent civilian by a rouge police officer ? Anything about a new police chief ?
      Does the police department have anything to do with this decision ?

      And then we get to the most offensive part;
      You imply that responsible citizens partaking in what is their CONSTITUTIONAL right is somehow going to induce “amnesia” about the many things that elected officials have gotten wrong in the past. That’s pretty condescending… As a citizen of this town who occasionally goes out for dinner and has a glass of wine with it, I am offended that you think the town has some sort of conspiracy theory to get the citizens of this town to forget the recent past.
      That is not only offensive to town officials, the voters who elected them or myself, but I think it is offensive to every responsible citizen.
      You can do better…

  3. Before alcohol was allowed in Tisbury people would go to restaurants with a cooler filled with bottles of liquor. Nobody could regulate how much people drank.
    The naysayers of enjoying a beer or a glass of wine with friends live in a closed reality. Their values are limiting.

  4. “Off with the shackles of Puritanism.” I laughed out loud at that comment.

    Look, I am not a stakeholder so I will not offer any opinion on this issue.

    One question, though. If alcohol wins the day, will patrons at the Art Cliff diner be able to order Mimosas with breakfast?

  5. What do you do with a drunken sailor, what do you do with a drunken sailor? Wonder what the harbor looked like back in the day to push this law into effect.

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