Liquor law change endorsed by Tisbury select board

The Tisbury select board endorsed a town wide vote that allows alcohol sales without the requirement of ordering food at restaurants. — Rich Saltzberg

During a brief public hearing on Dec. 21, the Tisbury select board voted 2-0 to support a legislative change that allows alcohol to be served in Vineyard Haven restaurants without customers having to purchase food.

The change was supported by voters at town meeting, by the state legislature, and in a townwide vote during the Nov. 8 election as so-called Question 5. 

After that vote, town administrator Jay Grande said there was one more step required — a public hearing. That was held on the 21st at 4 pm. 

The only member of the public to speak was former select board member Jeff Kristal. Kristal was a proponent of changes to the town’s liquor laws — first supporting a change to allow hard alcohol instead of just beer and wine, and then advocating for the change that would allow a patron to get an alcoholic beverage without being required to purchase food.

Kristal spoke briefly in support of the change, saying it would bring in much-needed revenue in the form of the meals tax added to all restaurant bills.

Tisbury was the only down-Island town to have such a requirement to serve food, which sometimes prompted customers to go to either Oak Bluffs or Edgartown to patronize a restaurant.

There are still restrictions in place that require restaurants to have the bulk of their sales (65 percent) be food. Exactly how that will be enforced has not been explained.

The Times asked for clarification on when the new law would go into effect, and select board members said their intent is that it would be immediate.

A short time later, the board approved all of the all-alcohol license renewals for the town establishments that serve liquor.

J.B. Blau, the owner of Copper Anchor, was quick to alert customers to the change with a Facebook post. “As of 4:09 pm V.H. is officially a town that doesn’t require food to order a beverage!” he wrote.


  1. Find it confounding how people are stuck on the way it was when so many simply disagree. Plenty of times I drove my the Wok and wanted a single glass of wine, but didn’t want a meal so I kept on driving. Finally some sense. Now get the old Bowl and Board in the hands of new owners so a proper restaurant person will invest and turn that into an anchor for Main Street.

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