A glass of wine or beer at the end of the day is relaxing and may have health benefits, it is said.
Hugh and Jeanne Taylor hope the addition of beer and wine sales to the dinner menu at the Outermost Inn will have the same effect on their business.
The inn has been granted Aquinnah’s first limited liquor license and the Taylors hope to begin pouring after a public hearing later this month. The hearing is required by state law.
Aquinnah voters at their annual meeting this year took the final steps to allow the sale of beer and wine at restaurants in town. The initiative began with a home-rule petition last year. There are only two restaurants that qualify for licensing.
The Outermost Inn applied for its license on May 23.
The Aquinnah Shop at Gay Head, the only other restaurant eligible to serve beer and wine to diners, has not yet filed an application.
On Tuesday afternoon this week, in the midst of a stifling early June heat wave, Mr. Taylor puttered about his inn, which sits at the westernmost edge of the Vineyard in the shadow of the Gay Head Light with sweeping views out to the Elizabeth Islands.
“My down-Island friends with beer and wine licenses tell me that I’ll wonder how we ever survived without [a license],” he said.
Mr. Taylor said he does not expect huge additional profits as a result of his liquor license, but he said he does expect it to help. He also said he looks forward to becoming involved in the creative art of pairing wine and beer with food.
“We dispose of 350 empty wine bottles a week so we have an idea of customer taste,” he quipped.
Executive chef Dan Sauer, graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is revamping the menu to provide suggested wines and beers to accompany entree items. He is also revamping prices.
“We’re going to reduce our fine dining fixed price to $60 from $75 and we hope that will not only attract more people to try us but regular diners will be able to spend the same amount of money — and our profit margin on the $15 spent on beverages will be higher than we get on food,” he said.
Since 1989, the Taylors have run the seven-room inn which accommodates up to 14 guests a day between May and October. The inn sits on 25 acres near the Gay Head cliffs. The restaurant seats 30 and is a popular spot for both Islanders and visitors.
And guests and diners have traditionally brought their own alcohol.
The bring-your-own courtesy will eventually disappear because of state rules and insurance costs, but not right away, Mr. Taylor said.
“The town has been very supportive and has been open to let us find our own way,” he said. Aquinnah selectmen became the town alcohol licensing board following passage of a home rule petition last year by the state legislature.
“Over time, we will only be allowing the beverages we are licensed to sell on the premises but there’s no way I’m going to say no right now to the Edgartown ladies who have come for their weekly lunch date for years with a tiny mayonnaise jar of pre-mixed martinis,” Mr. Taylor said.
And as Mr. Taylor calibrates the impact of alcohol sales on his business, he sees other potential services and benefits.
“I think we will also have a chance to control consumption if we are pouring, rather than a BYOB situation,” he said.
“We also have a notion that we might be able to support a winter lunch business with beer and wine sales,” he added, although no firm plans have been made at this point.
Reflecting on his 20-year-old business, Mr. Taylor said:
“You know, we were lucky because we started during the Clinton years and for eight years, the entire Island made money, us included.
“But the last four years have been difficult, mostly during the shoulder season. I think Island business is back where it was before the Clinton years,“ he said.
He said he also hopes his experience in Aquinnah might serve as an example for Tisbury which narrowly defeated a beer and wine petition at annual town meeting in April.
“I agree that community standards are important but I don’t think allowing Le Grenier to serve wine will make Vineyard Haven a honky tonk town. Maybe our experience can offer a different perspective,” he said.