Two downtown restaurants in Oak Bluffs won approval from the Oak Bluffs selectmen this week to make changes for the winter, with one closing until spring and another adopting shortened hours of operation until January.
The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, a year-round restaurant, will close until April 1, 2021, following approval from the selectmen. Owner JB Blau said indoor dining rules that strictly limit numbers of tables and patrons have forced him to shutter for now. “We have no windows, we’re all indoors,” Mr. Blau told the board.
He said he hopes to reopen the Chowder Company in the spring with a new outdoor dining plan and the possibility of using space upstairs at the Loft for additional seating.
The year-round liquor license for the Chowder Company will be paused until spring, town administrator Robert Whritenour told the Gazette by phone later.
Selectmen also gave their approval to Seaweed’s, a restaurant in its first season located on Kennebec avenue, to cut back from five days a week to four. Seaweed’s will now be open Thursday through Sunday.
Co-owner Danielle Pattavina originally asked to reduce open hours to Saturdays only, but selectmen said they could not approve that. “We’re trying to stay open but it’s been difficult,” Ms. Pattavina said.
“We do understand how difficult it is and we do understand losing money but there is a fairness that we have to keep between all the businesses,” selectman Jason Balboni said.
Seaweed’s holds a seasonal liquor license, which runs until Jan. 15.
In other business at the meeting Tuesday, selectmen gave approval for shellfish constable Charles Fisher to open the Oak Bluffs harbor to shellfishing in December.
The harbor will open to recreational permit holders on Saturday, Dec. 12, with a limit of a half bushel of soft and or hardshell clams.
The harbor opens to commercial permit holders on Dec. 14 with a daily limit of one bushel of littlenecks, one bushel of cherrystones and two bushels of chowders.
Selectmen also expressed warm thanks and appreciation to Elizabeth Durkee, the longtime town conservation agent, for her many years of work and service in Oak Bluffs. Ms. Durkee was recently hired as the climate change planner for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, a new position.
“I think the only thing that makes this comforting for us is knowing you’re going to be looking over our shoulder from the commission and helping us whenever we need help,” selectman Greg Coogan told Ms. Durkee. “The vast experience you have and your knowledge at the commission will help us.”
Ms. Durkee thanked the selectmen in return and said: “I love this town. I love working for Oak Bluffs. I’m really proud to work for the town, there’s a lot of great teamwork. Thank you all for letting me expand my horizons and work on the climate issues. It’s been a great experience. I will be right down the street. I will still be working with everyone and I’m really happy about that.”