As West Tisbury considers a vote to approve the sale of beer and wine in the historically dry town, it can look to the neighboring town of Tisbury, which just two years ago narrowly passed its own regulations that brought beer and wine to town restaurants following much contentious debate.

West Tisbury will vote on the matter at its April 10 annual town meeting. The warrant article in question allows selectmen to grant beer and wine licenses to restaurants with a capacity of more than 50 patrons, provided any sale of alcohol is accompanied by a meal. If passed, three West Tisbury restaurants would qualify for a license: State Road Restaurant, the Lambert’s Cove Inn Restaurant and the Plane View Restaurant.

Voters will also be asked at town meeting and on the town election ballot whether to allow one-day licenses for fundraisers and political events, which have been granted for years but without proper regulatory oversight.

At a town forum in November, some West Tisbury residents expressed reservations about the change to a town that has been dry since at least the mid-19th century, when proprietor Sanderson Manter Mayhew held a license for the sale of rum at what is now Alley’s General Store. Others groused that the change would only benefit the handful of restaurant owners pushing for the change.

On Wednesday longtime West Tisbury resident John Alley echoed some of those concerns.

“I don’t have any difficulty with the one-day events — they’ve happened for years here — but the way we’ve always done it in the town of West Tisbury is you bring your own booze to restaurants and you bring what you want,” he said. “It’s change and I just think it takes away a little bit from the town.”

Voters’ worries about beer and wine sales in West Tisbury today mirror those loudly expressed in Vineyard Haven two years ago, during that town’s own run-up to a beer and wine vote. But so far, say town officials and business owners who spoke with the Gazette this week, alcohol sales have not yet proven to erode Vineyard Haven’s character or increase crime, as was once worried — and though a boon to business, neither have they proved to be an economic panacea.

“Vineyard Haven is still Vineyard Haven,” Mansion House general manager and Tisbury business association board member Nili Goldstein said on Wednesday. Ms. Goldstein says that her restaurant, Zephrus, closes at 9 p.m. most nights, and without incident.

“It’s had no negative effects,” she said. “I haven’t heard any complaints about what it’s done to the character of the town or any of those worries that people had. As for businesses, what it’s allowed us to do is compete with our neighbors in Oak Bluffs.”

Ms. Goldstein says that with the sale of beer and wine, waiters and waitresses have seen their incomes boosted, and as a result the restaurant has been able to hire more competent staff.

From a law enforcement perspective, fears of an unruly late night crowd in Vineyard Haven have also been thus far unsubstantiated, said Tisbury police chief Dan Hanavan.

“I actually think alcohol is regulated better now with the rules because there are guidelines,” Mr. Hanavan said on Wednesday. “In the old days you could have walked in with your two buddies and a case of beer and sat down to eat and they’d serve you.”

He said he has not seen an increase in drunk driving or disorderly conduct related to the legislation in the two years since its passage.

At the Main street fixture Le Grenier, chef and owner Jean Dupon says the ability to serve his own selection of wines and pair it with food is a source of pride.

“For me, especially being a French restaurant for 32 years, when people from Europe would visit me and find out that I couldn’t serve wine they used to laugh out loud. It was quite embarrassing,” he said. “The irony, as I found out, in the state of Massachusetts there were only eight or nine towns without beer and wine at restaurants and four of them were on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s called a Vineyard!”

But, he says, with beer and wine license fees at $2,500 a year, and operating in the midst of a crippling recession, the financial windfall from the sale of alcohol has been harder to appreciate.

“It’s not what people might think,” he said. “It’s not as if all of a sudden I got a beer and wine license and we’re making money hand over fist. If we had more customers it would certainly help, but after you pay the fees and everything, it’s not that much of a blessing. No one will become a millionaire because of their license.”

West Tisbury has not yet determined its licensing fees.

Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee said that the licensing of restaurants has added another layer of paperwork and bureaucracy to his job, but for the most part it has been a positive change for the town. Tisbury had its own unique motivations for introducing alcohol to town, such as the influx of thirsty, and subsequently disappointed, tourists disembarking from ferries, said Mr. Bugbee, and each town should develop regulations that reflect its character.

“I’m confident that West Tisbury will do just that,” he said.

West Tisbury residents will have the chance to hash out their town’s regulations at a public forum on April 4 at 4:30 p.m. in the town hall meeting room, days prior to the annual town meeting vote.

Chairman of the West Tisbury board of selectmen, Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter says that he is not concerned about changing the character of West Tisbury.

“We aren’t adding service of alcohol at the restaurants and if anything we’ll probably have better control over consumption,” he said on Wednesday. “If I brought a six pack to a BYOB I might consume the whole six pack. Actually having to purchase the beer, I’d probably only have two or three bottles.”

Mr. Manter noted that patrons will no longer be able to bring in hard liquor and the restaurants will not be licensed to serve it, further reducing alcohol consumption.

Scott Jones, who co-owns Lambert’s Cove Inn with I. Kell Hicklin, and who petitioned for the change before the last town meeting, said that the change would help his business in a number of ways.

“First, there’s the confusion aspect for visitors coming to the Island and not knowing which town is wet and which one is dry — we have diners who don’t enjoy their dinner when they find out West Tisbury is dry,” he said. “Then there’s the dining aspect; our chef would like to pair wines with dinner. And I’m not going to say it isn’t a revenue issue, as well. The economy is tough right now.”

While West Tisbury restaurant owners are pushing for the change, and voters have already taken the first step in the two-year process by voting at last year’s town meeting to petition the state legislature for a home rule amendment, not everyone in town is thrilled about the new direction.

“It will be a radical change and the older you get the less you like change,” said Mr. Alley.

But, he claims, the issue will not even be the most contentious of the night at town meeting.

“This will run a close second to the issue of dogs on the beach,” he said.