Dunkin' Donuts Plan Surfaces in Tisbury at Board of Health
By MAX HART
A quiet proposal to open a Dunkin' Donuts on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven was approved by the Tisbury board of health last month, but the Needham man who wants to open the shop still must apply to the town planning board for approval.
At its weekly meeting on Sept. 27, the board of health signed off on a plan to sell the chain restaurant's donuts, coffee and breakfast sandwiches at the building that currently houses Wrap and Roll, a small eatery located at the Tisbury Shell station. According to minutes of the meeting, the request was approved based on assurances that no food would be made on the premises along with its compliance with town wastewater regulations.
The application was submitted by Fernando Fernandes of Needham who has owned and operated three Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Massachusetts, according to the minutes. He told the board that no food preparation would be conducted on site and that sandwiches would come frozen to be thawed and heated in a microwave. He said the company's trademark donuts would be made in an off site kitchen, either at a commercial kitchen at the airport or brought in from an off-Island location.
Mr. Fernandes' plan first surfaced in Vineyard Haven more than a month ago when he approached town building inspector Ken Barwick to discuss his plans for the building, which included making minor exterior renovations, installing signage and landscaping.
There are conflicting impressions among town officials of what exactly Mr. Fernandes intends to do. Rebecca Stevens, administrative assistant to the board of health, said it was the board's view that Mr. Fernandes expects to convert the Wrap and Roll space into a full-fledged Dunkin' Donuts. Ms. Stevens said Mr. Fernandes showed the board photos of previous franchises he has opened as examples of what he wants to do with the interior.
But Mr. Barwick said yesterday he was under the impression that Mr. Fernandes intends to simply sell Dunkin' Donuts products alongside the existing fare of wraps and sandwiches, and not convert the building completely to a Dunkin' Donuts.
"It won't be that, but more of him introducing Dunkin' Donuts products in addition to the existing products," Mr. Barwick said. "That's the way I understood it."
Mr. Fernandes could not be reached for comment.
Either way, Mr. Barwick said Mr. Fernandes must apply for a special permit from the town planning board to operate a food service. He said the application will also have to go before the Martha's Vineyard Commission, because the building was reviewed as a development of regional impact (DRI). As of this week, Mr. Fernandes had not contacted the planning board.
Wrap and Roll is currently operated by Margery and Valdemar Piers and is licensed to Cafe Gourmet LLC.
If Mr. Fernandes' application is approved by the planning board, Mr. Barwick said it would then be passed on to the MVC for review.
Chain restaurants are traditionally absent from the Vineyard landscape, both because Islanders do not want them and also because the population base is not usually considered large enough to support the volume requirements of a chain franchise.
The most notable exception is the Dairy Queen, whose presence in Edgartown predates the advent of the chain restaurant craze in the country.
For about two years there was a Subway shop on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs.
And Dunkin' Donuts products have been sold on the Island before.
Robert Clark brought the products to Vineyard Haven 10 years ago when the town zoning board of appeals allowed him to sell donuts and coffee from his Vineyard Haven Coffee Shop on Main street. Two years before that, Douglas Abdelnour sold Dunkin' Donuts from his restaurant, Nancy's Snack Bar on the Oak Bluffs harbor. Mr. Abdelnour eventually stopped selling the products and the Vineyard Haven Coffee Shop went out of business.
The most famous fight over a chain restaurant on the Vineyard took place in 1978 when a plan surfaced to open a McDonald's on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven.
Using slogans like Sack the Mac, Islanders and the Vineyard Gazette fought a high-profile campaign to keep McDonalds off the Vineyard - and won.