Another Private Club Permit Issued to Jonesboro Restaurant Owner - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Kathy Morris reports

Another Private Club Permit Issued to Jonesboro Restaurant Owner

SEPTEMBER 22, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:30pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - A Jonesboro businessman now has Craighead County's 14th Private Club Permit, pending final approvals. The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board made their decision Wednesday.

Julio Diaz, Junior began the Private Club Permit process in mid-July when he submitted his application. His request was approved after a 3 to 2 vote.

"Tears were coming out of my eyes, you know, because this is something I've wanted for my family," said Diaz.

The doors to Julio's Mexican Restaurant remain closed, but when it opens for good customers will likely be able to have a margarita with their Tex-Mex meal. Steve Jacobson represents the church community, which still has concerns after the most recent permit was granted to Piero's Restaurant and Club, which is right across the street from Julio's.

"Piero's talked about how they were going to use the profits for a scholarship for ASU in order to comply with the non-profit status requirement by the law. No where in Mr. Diaz's presentation did they address that issue," explained Jacobson, a reverend at Friendly Hope Baptist Church.

Julio Diaz said he did tell the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board his charity intentions from alcohol profits -- to give to the less fortunate, especially during holidays.

Diaz added, "Free of charge come in and eat all of the Thanksgiving dinner they want, people that can't afford it, just come in and it's served free by my family, and by the people that help us. Christmas, the same way."

City inspectors will make sure new vents in the kitchen are installed properly. Arkansas Health Department inspectors will then go through the property. Their findings will be submitted back to the ABC board for final permit approval.

Steve Jacobson is worried the permit is starting a trend folks in Craighead County don't want.

"...and I think the only way it's going to be solved is A. replace members of that board with people who are more responsive to the concerns of dry counties, or change the private club law to close that loophole," Jacobson complained.

Diaz said, "I'm just excited. I'm ready to start fighting as far as the committee, to let them see that the decision they made was a good decision."

Another comment Steve Jacobson made was that if residents wanted to vote the county wet, those in opposition would live with it. Again, his complaint is that permits are being issued too easily and too often.

As for Julio Diaz, he hopes to have his private club open by November First.

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