Sharky’s Cantina will enjoy a growing presence on Circuit avenue this summer after Oak Bluffs selectmen approved an indoor-outdoor 24-seat expansion for the popular year-round restaurant on Thursday. The expansion into a deck in a neighboring building is not contiguous with the restaurant and will require wait staff to cross an alley that also serves as an entrance to the Camp Ground.
Sharky’s attorney Sean Murphy emphasized that the use of the alley was for wait staff only and that noise from the patio, which will feature piped-in background music, would be contained as the patio is enclosed on three sides. He also said patrons will not be allowed to bring alcohol from one part of the restaurant to another.
Still, the introduction of outdoor music concerned selectman Gail Barmakian.
“This is a new thing for Circuit avenue,” she said. “I’m just concerned that with the introduction of music it could blow out onto the sidewalk as well as the back and to your abutters it could be problematic.”
“If it’s too loud we’re going to be told,” said owner JB Blau. “I have a pretty open relationship with our neighbors so if there is ever a problem they have my cell phone number.”
Mr. Blau said his only abutter, the owner of the Laughing Bear, backs the expansion. And Mr. Murphy said wait staff had been using the alley for years to access dry goods in storage on the neighboring property. The plan also calls for a new indoor private dining room, also across the alley, to accommodate large parties.
The increased capacity of the restaurant will help offset Sharky’s winter losses, Mr. Blau said, noting the restaurant has not closed for a day since it opened in 2005.
Some neighbors in the Camp Ground were wary of the expansion.
“[This is] a public way,” said Bo Fehl. “This is the entrance for cottage visitors to make their way to Circuit avenue. I don’t want to see them fighting trays of alcohol back and forth; we need that access, it’s very important to us.”
Camp Meeting Association vice president Craig Lowe echoed Mr. Fehl’s remarks. “This is one of the most heavily traveled entries to the Camp Ground,” he said.
Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the expansion.
They were not similarly inclined when it came to a proposal from a Boston based tour company to run a Segway tour through Oak Bluffs. Citing the town’s experience with mopeds and the increasing congestion on summer streets, selectmen commended the company — which runs tours at the Boston Museum of Science — for its emphasis on safety but feared that one more motorized vehicle on Circuit avenue in the summer is one too many.
“We’ve had to deal with a hangover from mopeds that makes me say to myself, they all told us those would be safe, they told us they wouldn’t be a hindrance, and we’ve been in a situation where we’ve licensed them and it’s been a very difficult to go back,” said selectman Greg Coogan. “I don’t even know what [Segway scooters] are so it’s difficult for me to say go for it.”
The proposal was denied.
The board also hosted a discussion on how to address deficiencies in the town’s outdoor entertainment policy. Ms. Barmakian, who has in recent weeks met with harborfront business owners, the police department and nearby residents, proposed an end to all amplified outdoor entertainment except background music or specially-permitted events.
“All the other bars that don’t have outdoor premises have to close their windows and doors when they have amplified entertainment,” she said.
Mr. Murphy, this time speaking in his role as the owner of Fishbones, instead proposed a trial period for acoustic music only, until 11 p.m. at the five establishments currently permitted for outdoor entertainment. Mr. Murphy acknowledged that the outdoor music had become a problem and that one boat that had been docked in the harbor for 48 years had left last year because of increased noise.
“The harbor is the jewel of the town and when these licenses were granted the intent was as you strolled down the harbor you could hear some music at different bars and restaurants, it wasn’t to turn it into a rock show on the harbor,” he said. “The problem is there are no rules right now, it’s a free-for-all.”
Selectmen agreed to a two-week trial period of no amplified music at the establishments permitted for outdoor entertainment. They also approved a new tattoo parlor at 55 Circuit avenue, Martha’s Vineyard Tattoo, and approved a 5K road race on July 16 to benefit the Martha’s Vineyard Arena.
Finally, scanning the empty seats at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, which began at 5:30 and ran past 9 p.m. for the third consecutive time since the new members of the board were elected in April, selectmen acknowledged that civic-minded Rip Van Winkles in attendance may want to adjourn before bedtime, and moved to change the start of their meetings to 5 p.m.