February 5, 2004 at 10:58 PM CST - Updated June 26 at 3:07 AM
Frebruary 5, 2004--Posted at 6:00 p.m.
JONESBORO, AR--The owners of Piero's Main Street Bistro in downtown Jonesboro want to turn their restaurant into a private club so they can serve alcohol to their members.
For owner Piero Trimarchi this isn't about a fight to end 60 years of "dry" Craighead County, but there are some who disagree.
Piero Trimarchi opened his kitchen on main street to the folks of Jonesboro more than two years ago, but now he wants to close his main street bistro to the public and turn it into a private club.
"We had to turn private, because in a dry county there's no other way to apply for a liquor license," said Trimarchi.
Rev. Verlon Wood of New Grace Baptist Church said, "As long as this county is dry we're going to fight private clubs."
Pastor Wood believes the 12 private clubs already in "dry" Craighead county are enough.
"That's my stance, we have plenty of opportunity for people to have access to alcohol, we don't need anymore," said Wood.
But Trimarchi insists, only one of those private clubs is a fine dining restaurant. "T
he kind of food we serve really needs a glass of wine to go with it. It's designed with that in mind, it's presented with that in mind and this goes back to ancient times," said Trimarchi.
To get a private club alcohol permit, Trimarchi must show he has had 100 members of a non profit organization that have met monthly for at least a year. To meet that requirement, Trimarchi established Artistic Food Design, Ltd, in april of 2002 and currently has 116 members. The corporation also funds scholarhips for the high school level for culinary design and for college level for the fine arts design. The group also holds cooking classes and discusses art and fine dining. And as required, Trimarchi must post his intent to serve alcohol for 30 days, and has had the sign in his window since January 15, 2003.
"We're not trying to change the law. The law allows us to apply for a license in a dry county and this is the only way we can do this," echoed co-owner Sara Trimarchi.
But Rev. Wood believes, "If piero's recieves their private club license, there will be another in line and it will have a domino effect and certainly we're opposed to this."
The state Alcohol Beverage Control Commision could rule on Piero's application by the 18th of this month, or may offer a public hearing in March.
If approved, Piero's would close to the public and only members who pay the $10 annual dues, and their guests, would be allowed into the private club.