A.B.C. Board Says 'NO' to More Liquor on Main Street

August 17, 2005 - Posted at 10:10 A.M. CST Updated at 10:15 P.M. CST 

LITTLE ROCK-- The state has denied Main Street Pizza's application for a liquor license. It was a four hour 'he said, she said' between the pizza place's owner, Donna Irby, and the neighbors who wanted to keep their corner of Main Street dry.

Unlike the Piero's decision last year which was 3-2 in Piero's favor ... This one was unanimous against Main Street Pizza. It's because of that next door neighbor, Powerhouse Ministries, a hangout for Christian teens.

Arkansas Beverage Commission board member Tony Ellis in a matter of moments dashed what hopes Donna Irby and Main Street Pizza had of obtaining a liquor license.

Ellis said, "I make a motion to uphold the directors decision based on the following reasons."

The basis of his decision was laid out in what can be summed up as a battle of he said, she said. One by one opponents of the potential license came to plate for Powerhouse Ministries, stating concerns regarding the safety of the teenagers and the influence of alcohol next door.

Carla Borden, Executive Director for Powerhouse Ministries says todays decision was in the interest of the community.

"We didn't come down here to put anyone down. We came to defend the students that come to our ministries," said Borden.

Borden continued, "We want to do what is in our community's best interest. We are not just anti-liquor. At this point, that was not in our best interest, and we had to come up here and speak to let them (the A.B.C. Board) make an open minded decision."

Donna Irby's lawyer, Tommy Fowler, believes the decision was made from numerous issues.

Fowler said, "They based it off of Powerhouse being next door. They based it off of opposition from churches outside the downtown area. Petitions and questions in regards to parking and safety up and down the street."

Regardless of the decision, he says his team gave it their best shot.

"Am I disappointed in the decision? Yes. Could we have done anything different? We were just sitting there, and Donna leaned over to me and said I don't see anything else we could have done. But of course, we have the right to appeal which of course we have not discussed yet," Fowler said.

If they do appeal, the next court that would see the case would be the state circuit court. Until then, Main Street will remain mostly dry.