Nightclub Versus Liquor Store

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Gazette is at its best when it breaks news stories (or at least clarifies news stories already being bandied about the Island grapevine). You did so last week with your reportage about the future of Nectar’s. You had to read between the carefully worded lines and “no comments” to see a true picture emerging of a group from Edgartown, surreptitiously swapping liquor licenses in order to attempt to buy the old Hot Tin Roof property at the airport and turn it into a huge, year-round liquor store. Something like Kappy’s in Falmouth perhaps? Why would we want that and who would go there all the time? The Island already has enough of its share of alcoholics as it is.

You can’t blame owner Arthur Rosenthal for wanting to make the best deal for himself, but I understand that Nectar’s bid for the place is only slightly below that of the liquor folks. And that old building, put up hastily in 1979, is now in need of serious renovating, thus diminishing any great windfall Arthur Rosenthal might hope to accrue.

The group from Burlington, Vt., came onto the scene late last spring when it seemed as though summer would go by with the old steel building standing vacant. Not only did they seriously upgrade to sound, but the talent and vibes brought in were first class. You got the feeling these guys really knew how to run a class act. And now they plan to add the fantastic pizza made from Flatbread to join the fray. They will hopefully offer world-class pizza that can be delivered all over the Island at any time, day or night. What fun! Beach blanket bingo!

All kidding aside, I really hope that the various powers that be who could refuse to allow the change of use from nightclub to liquor store will step up to the plate and just say no. The airport commission, the Edgartown selectmen and ultimately the Martha’s Vineyard Commission all have to agree as one, and do so quickly, in order for something else to open up this summer. That’s a formidable task.

I hope the sellers become more realistic (and socially conscious) at making the building available to the Nectar’s folks at a price everyone can live with. That way, we can all look forward to many wonderful times ahead of hearing the old classic groups come through the place, along with the next generation of upstarts and locals, all combining to create piles of memorable times and charitable giving for us all.

Peter Simon


Good Team Prospect

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a working musician on Martha’s Vineyard I am excited to hear that Nectar’s is hoping to purchase the Outerland and give Martha’s Vineyard a permanent and desperately needed large venue for live music and community events. I was fortunate enough last year to work with the Nectar’s crew on a few shows; they are a class act! I sincerely hope they are able to return.

Last season Nectar’s provided not only a great venue for music, but also a venue for the many benefits which they graciously hosted, including the Montessori School benefit, Darcy family benefit, Tucker family benefit to name a few. While helping to raise money for good causes, these events also help bring the community together.

It gets even better when I hear that Nectar’s is hoping to team up with Flatbread; perfect! Flatbread would be an amazing addition to the Island as well. I’ve had the opportunity to visit them in Portsmouth, N.H., and was very impressed. The food is excellent and their style fits the Vineyard well. Flatbread is also very community supportive and prides itself on the use of organic and local ingredients.

I also understand there’s a possibility that the building may be sold to a competitive bidder who plans to open a liquor store. I think I speak for all Islanders both year-round and seasonal when I ask, does the Vineyard really need another liquor store? My definitive answer to that is no and I think the overwhelming majority would agree.

I hope the selectmen of Edgartown weigh the needs of the community carefully when it comes time to hand out permits for a liquor store at the airport. The Nectar’s and Flatbread team sounds and tastes way better to me than a liquor store! My mouth is watering as I dream of Flatbread’s yummy pizza while watching some great live music at Nectar’s. I hope we are lucky enough to get them both.

Mike Benjamin


Sound Check: Don’t Quit Now

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing this letter in response to last week’s article about Nectar’s. I have worked at Nectar’s (formerly Outerland and before that the Hot Tin Roof) as the sound man for many years, from the last three years of the Roof through the Outerland years and up to last summer at Nectar’s.

It seems I spend my winters of late worrying about the future of that place for two personal reasons: will I have a job next year; and will there still be a place on the Island to see top-notch musical talent (both national touring acts, as well as our local musicians, of which we have more per capita than any other place I can think of)?

Without Nectar’s, the answer will be no, period, the end. Do we really need another liquor store so badly that we are willing to snuff out what is left of a once iconic nightclub whose stage has been graced by names such as Simon, Taylor, Raitt, Reed, Rebennack, Hibbert, Marley, Collins, Neville, and Betts . . . just to name a few. Not to mention local names such as Silva, Benjamin, Major, Hoy, Padilla, Berlin . . . again, just scratching the surface. To me it would be such a shame to see that place gone.

The Hot Tin Roof people had had enough; the Outerland folks had huge heart, but no experience. But I think the Nectar’s boys can turn the place around. What I see with the gang from Burlington is a freshness, along with the heart and experience to make it all come together. They want to make it what it once was: a place that people wanted to go, both to play and to listen. They are all about the word “local,” and I really feel they are doing this because it is fun. What’s fun about a liquor store? What would the cultural impact be?

So I guess I am making a plea to all involved. Let’s come together people, do the right thing, and the right thing as far as I can see is to keep this space what it is, a place where people can go to have fun, see and hear some talented musicians, have a drink, and have something to talk about the following day. This is a special place with a lot of history. Don’t quit when we are so close.

Peter Sawyer

West Tisbury

Live Music, No Liquor Store

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I heartily endorse the continued existence of Nectar’s at the airport, and the addition of pizza is most welcome.

It is far preferable for the life of the Island to have live music for ourselves and our visitors than a liquor store or any other store at that location.

I thank the good people at Nectar’s and I hope they are able to continue with their plans.

Kate Taylor