Menemsha may have a new lunch option this summer, after the Chilmark selectmen approved an innkeeper and common victualler’s license for Dennis Barquinero, the new general manager of the Home Port, Beach Plum Inn and Menemsha Inn, with the understanding that Mr. Barquinero may open the Home Port’s take-out window for lunch.
Appearing before the board, Mr. Barquinero said there will be no changes to operations at the two inns, but that he and Home Port owners Robert and Susan Nixon are exploring the possibility of opening the back door take-out window for lunch daily at 11 a.m. Last summer, the back door window opened at 4 p.m. daily.
“[We’re ] really just trying to make things work,” said Mr. Barquinero. “It’s an expensive property there. You only have a short period of time to make that income.”
Selectmen Frank M. Fenner Jr., who owns the Galley restaurant across the street from the Home Port, opposed the changes but abstained from the vote to approve the licenses.
Mr. Fenner said he feared that opening the Home Port for lunch would make parking issues in Menemsha even worse than they already are. “The [Home Port parking] lot fills up down there on a beautiful day very quickly. A lot of people still park there and then walk. I’m concerned . . . we’re taking away the possibility for people to use it for beach parking . . . It’s going to put a strain on Menemsha,” he said.
But chairman Warren Doty said parking at Menemsha can’t get much worse. “Parking is a problem, but every business attracts more cars than they have space for,” he said.
Mr. Barquinero said the Home Port parking lot would remain open to the public until 4 p.m. “We might want to hold one or two spots [for customers to use while they pick up their take-out orders],” he said.
Mr. Fenner said there have been many changes from the plan for the Home Port presented by the owners when they bought the property two years ago. Once it opened under new ownership, he said the hours kept changing and the restaurant added a Sunday brunch. “With this lunch thing in, that makes it almost a 100 per cent increase [in the hours of operation],” Mr. Fenner said.
But Mr. Doty said he would rather see an increase in hours than a decrease.
In other business, the selectmen decided not to support an application made by Jay McMann for a permit to operate a mobile marine fuel truck in Menemsha.
Again, Mr. Fenner voiced his concern for traffic and parking issues in the village. “My concern is the truck is parked out on the street infringing traffic,” he said.
Parks and recreation committee chairman Andy Goldman agreed. “Every year we have a tremendous parking problem and a congestion problem in Menemsha,” he said, adding that he didn’t think the addition of a fuel truck would be a good idea. “We impose strict conditions upon people who operate down there. We require the gas station to be open when it isn’t convenient or economic for them,” he said. “I can understand that it is an attractive market . . . but I think Menemsha is working pretty well the way it is.”
Menemsha Texaco owner Marshall Carroll said he would not be opposed to competition and doesn’t want to force boaters to purchase their fuel from him, especially when there’s a cheaper option. “I’m not against helping out the fisherman. Everyone’s hurting,” he said. But he also said he has worked hard to keep his store open 365 days a year, and maintain the lowest fuel prices on the Island. “I’m not for it,” Mr. Marshall concluded.
Mr. McMann said he made the application because he’d been told by boaters that Menemsha could use the service. “I don’t want to come in and step on anyone’s toes,” he said. “Down the road if you need help, if something changes, we could just revisit this.”
The board also appointed Robert A. Bellinger Jr. as chief of tri-town ambulance.
Dennis Jason was appointed harbor master for the summer season, and Richard Steves was appointed assistant harbor master. Cody Coutinho was appointed wharfinger and Robert Picket Graves was appointed assistant wharfinger.