Tisbury selectmen this week completed town beer and wine regulations should residents vote at the ballot in April to approve such alcohol sales.
The regulations — which would govern licensed eateries and the application process — were finished after a long road of review over the winter.
Selectmen finished their 17-page document Tuesday afternoon in a two-hour meeting that included a public hearing at the Katharine Cornell Theatre. The regulations will be available Monday at town hall.
On Tuesday, April 15, voters in Tisbury will go to the ballot to decide whether to allow local restaurants to begin serving alcohol. Voters discussed changing the town from dry to wet at their annual meeting last year.
If voters defeat the beer and wine change at the ballot, the regulations would not be necessary.
At the hearing, local businessmen in the audience sought to define what the selectmen would and would not allow.
The regulations set the hours of service and define the permit process, the fees, and the rules of operation.
Under the regulations, restaurants would be held to serving no later than 11 p.m. Restaurants owners will be required to have trained staff. Seasonal license holders will be held to operating at least six contiguous months a year. The rules set standards of conduct and causes for revocation.
The selectmen’s overriding concern was that if the town allows the change, the serving of alcohol in these establishments would be ancillary to the serving of a meal. Meals and alcohol would be served only by a waiter or waitress.
Selectman Denys Wortman emphasized his board’s intent to prohibit any effort by a restaurant to use this opportunity to create a bar-like scene.
He spoke critically of an initiative by his colleagues to allow establishments to install large televisions, as that might encourage patrons to come for the sole purpose of drinking while watching sports. His fellow board members said they were open to increasing the allowable size of televisions from 15 inches to 36 inches. Selectmen Tristan Israel and Thomas Pachico voted in favor of the larger television size. Mr. Wortman opposed the motion.
Sam Dunn, who plans on opening a restaurant on Beach Road at the former location of the Daily Grind, pressed the selectmen on the issue of serving at a bar. He told them he is installing a raw bar in his restaurant and would like to be able to serve meals and alcohol at that bar.
Mr. Pachico urged Mr. Dunn to refer to his plan as a counter, as in lunch counter, not as a bar. Mr. Pachico said the town’s interest in allowing beer and wine to be served with a meal will be stringently watched.; if the floor plan submitted with a beer and wine application had the appearance of a bar, it would be denied.
Mr. Israel said to Mr. Dunn: “I think you are pushing the envelope.”
Mr. Pachico said that even if the town voters legalize eateries to sell beer and wine with a meal, selectmen won’t necessarily grant licenses. He said the regulations set standards which applicants must meet to earn the right to a license.
These include submitting an approved plot plan of the establishment, approval of a manager for the establishment by the selectmen, and service training for employees. The board members were in agreement on the final wording of most provisions of the proposed regulations.
Mr. Israel pushed his colleagues to include language in the regulations limiting the annual income of establishments from alcohol sales to a 35 per cent maximum; at least 65 per cent would have to come from food. They agreed.
At the advice of counsel, selectmen dropped the idea of allowing a special one-day license for nonprofits seeking to sell beer and wine with a meal.
Mr. Israel added that the selectmen can adjust the rules as they go along to address unanticipated problems.