Ebb and Flow of Beer and Wine Question:

Reasons to Say Yes

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to express why Ben and I have decided to support the beer and wine proposal coming up for vote on the ballot April 12.

First, we’ve followed Mary and Jackson Kenworth at Sweet Life Cafe and Slice of Life in Oak Bluffs (where they had liquor licenses) and then at State Road in West Tisbury (where they do not). They have created beautiful spaces, superb food, and a wonderful, welcoming, community atmosphere in each of their restaurants. When they have had a liquor license, they did not allow guests to abuse alcohol, become too noisy or rude, or disturb others. Their staff was well trained, polite, caring and careful in their management of those who were drinking.

Second, I have observed that at State Road, where people bring their own liquor, it is more difficult for their staff to manage heavy drinkers. People seem to feel that since it’s their own liquor, they have no right to be cut off, and that they can create a challenging situation. Further, sometimes guests continue drinking their BYOB in the parking lot.

Third, we’ve come to know and trust Mary and Jackson — both personally and as restaurant owners and managers. We believe we can count on them to manage drinkers wisely, to be sure that drivers can get home safely. We believe they will provide an excellent wine list with a range of prices affordable by many different sectors of our Island community. We look forward to enjoying many happy evenings at State Road, and we hope that the town of West Tisbury will approve the requested change to our bylaws.

Paddy Moore

West Tisbury

Sea Change

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Our ballot votes do matter. Should West Tisbury allow beer and wine in restaurants?

Legally allowing one-day fund-raising events to serve beer and wine to benefit good causes seems reasonable. What are the benefits of serving beer and wine in restaurants?

We have a ballot vote on April 12 that has the potential to create a sea change in West Tisbury’s character and identity forever. It is the seemingly innocent decision of whether or not restaurants should be allowed to serve beer and wine at their establishments. Currently, there are only three businesses that would receive the benefit of a favorable vote. What are the long-term impacts and benefits of this decision to West Tisbury’s taxpayers and voters? Perhaps we should evaluate how we got here in the first place.

A favorable ballot vote contradicts the spirit of the petition that persuaded the Massachusetts legislature to grant West Tisbury its independence from Tisbury almost 120 years ago to the day — on April 28, 1892. Here is the closing argument presented by West Tisbury to the legislature in February 1892:

“It is not the case of a young offshoot of an old town, grown tired of the conservatism and old-fogyishness of its parent and seeking to control its own affairs; but it is an appeal on the part of a parent for protection (from an) offspring laying on her expenses for development and improvement from which she derives no appreciable benefits. It is an appeal on behalf of a farming people to be set off from a people whose tendencies are ‘citified,’ and to be relieved from the taxes which were perfectly proper for a seaport and summer resort, but were a heavy burden on farmers and fishers ”

We have a paradox. Conventional progress and development of a town (getting “citified”) generally adds to its appeal and value over time. We, however, live in a special place where the more we hold off the pressures of progress and preserve West Tisbury’s unique character and traditional qualities the more appealing our town (and Island) becomes.

As we mark our ballots may I suggest the following for your consideration:

• Will approval give the town of West Tisbury any appreciable benefits?

• Will approval of this measure lower our taxes?

• Do we wish to become more “citified” in the name of progress?

• How will this decision affect the future development of West Tisbury’s “Mixed Use Business District?”

• Will approval increase the total price of a nice dinner out—versus the current “bring your own” arrangement?

• If this passes, what’s next?

Chuck Hodgkinson

West Tisbury

Vineyard Haven, a Fine Example

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

West Tisbury is full of liberal thinkers, yet we’re taxed, mandated, regulated, permitted, and who knows what else to keep us in our pigeonholes. Getting rid of a portion of puritanical law that forbids libelous drink would be a start in the right direction.

The restaurants in this town struggle enough to stay in business, and having the ability to sell alcoholic beverages would benefit them, and us, too. We’ve never minded BYOB, but it’s a turn off to a lot of people. Actually, having this ability would make drinking a lot safer for the community. The restaurants would have the control to not serve if they felt a patron or party was imbibing too much. We especially like the Lambert’s Cove Inn, not only because it’s close but it’s a comfortable (and delicious) way to spend an evening. This is what makes dining out a pleasure, even if it’s only occasionally. Our other favorite restaurant is in Edgartown, a longer stretch of driving after drinking. We need our neighborhood restaurants and want to support them.

Vineyard Haven recently passed a law that allows beer and wine in restaurants and it seems to be working just fine. It’s time for West Tisbury to do the same.

George and Debbie Athearn

West Tisbury

Radical Change

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The front page of last week’s Vineyard Gazette reports “No Big Change” in Tisbury for the two years since it has granted beer and wine licenses. Lifelong West Tisbury resident John Alley is quoted in the same article, regarding the possibility of alcohol licenses in West Tisbury: “It will be a radical change.” I agree.

It isn’t the short-term effect of having a cheerful beer with your dinner, rather it is about the sneaky foot-in-the-door law that looks innocuous, but causes change for the worse over time, e.g. the likelihood of serving alcohol in other venues, smaller number of seating or no seating requirements, bars, and of course, liquor stores. We are vulnerable to these changes, especially since the main promoters of passing this law are the financially motivated restaurant owners themselves. What else will our town be asked to do to accommodate future restaurant owners?

Is there any real benefit for the townspeople of West Tisbury except the proposed $350 yearly license fee?

On Tuesday, April 10, at the West Tisbury town meeting, article 41 is at the very end of the warrant. A yes vote allows the one-day licenses for fundraisers to continue. It also allows you to continue BYOB as before, and separates the issue of one-day license requirements from the restaurant alcohol licenses.

On Thursday, at the ballot a no vote to Question 2 ends the restaurant license issue for now.

Laura Clancy Murphy

West Tisbury

Consistent Policy Needed

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to offer up a few observations about the new licensing we have in Aquinnah allowing the sale of beer and wine at the Outermost Inn.

Our payroll has 24 Island residents on it and the success of our business is key to the economic well-being of those families. The profit margin on beer and wine sales makes our economic position less precarious in these tough times.

It is my belief that a consistent beer and wine policy across the Vineyard would eliminate the confusing patchwork of policy that now exists between towns. It is also my belief, perhaps supported by ABCC enforcement agents and police, that on-premises sales is the pathway to more control. If alcohol is being consumed on commercial property, it should ultimately be strictly controlled by the establishment through sale, policy and training. That is really hard to do when the establishment hasn’t supplied the product.

We have much greater control over the amount alcohol consumed now, as our patrons are no longer bringing in unbridled amounts of product for consumption. And our dining room is much quieter!

Hugh Taylor


Only Fair

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to urge West Tisbury voters to vote yes on Question 2 which would allow restaurants to serve beer and wine to their customers under a license granted by the selectmen. To me, this is about leveling the playing field. It strikes me as only fair to allow restaurants the ability to offer customers the basic amenity of wine or beer with their meals. This question is about supporting our local businesses and I hope that West Tisbury voters see it that way and vote yes on Question 2 on April 12.

Louis Larsen


A Good Thing

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are writing in support of the upcoming vote to allow beer and wine sales at restaurants in West Tisbury and to describe one family’s view of how the change worked in Vineyard Haven, where we live seasonally.

At first, we were skeptical. We were afraid it might change the character of the town. When it became effective, we would often walk around town at 9 or 10 p.m. to see what it was like.

It was a non-event.

While, as restaurant patrons, we enjoyed being able to BYO, we understand that the change is good not just for the individual restaurants, but for the town generally.

It is tough enough to make a living on the Vineyard and if this helps the local businesses without causing any discomfort to the residents, as we believe has been the case in Vineyard Haven, then it’s a good thing and we support it.

Louis and Linda Pashman

Upper Saddle River, N.J.,

and Vineyard Haven