ABC Approves Outback Steakhouse Liquor Permit

February 15, 2006--Posted at 11:00 pm
JONESBORO-- The only Outback in North America that doesn't serve alcohol is granted a liquor license.
The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissions Board, or the ABC, approved a liquor license for Jonesboro's Outback Steakhouse by a four to one vote.

After facing much opposition, Outback in Jonesboro has finally been granted a "conditional" private club liquor permit...

And for residents filing into the restaurant for dinner, the announcement posted on the window made no difference.

"I think it's good because it will bring other high end restaurants to Jonesboro," Outback customer Gunner Wilbanks says.

As Jonesboro continues to attract chain restaurants, Outback isn't the first to apply for a liquor license... And for some, the opposition by the city is a lost cause.

"I really don't see such a big problem. It's such a growing city. I don't understand why they would keep it out of here," Outback customer Jared Hobbs says.

But for members at Forest Home Church of the Nazarene, the news on Outback's new license was not so pleasant to hear.

They say they just signed a petition on Sunday to oppose the restaurant's appeal to receive a license... Outback first applied for a permit in November of last year, and last month they were denied.

"I have three children and I'm a regular church goer. I don't approve of drunk driving and drinking. I think that people can go to a restaurant and enjoy themselves without having to drink alcohol. I think it's really sad," member Shannon Sanders says.

After the appeal, the ABC board took up the issue again, and Outback was granted the license.

ABC Chair Ron Fuller says the board is trying to promote community hospitality.

But opposers say the city was doing well enough on its own.

"I don't think that it will bring business or tourism. I actually think people won't go because they don't want to support a business like that," Sanders says.

The restaurant holds up to 3 hundred people, 2 thirds of the seating will be reserved for those who chose to consume alcoholic beverages.

This may seem like the end of a long battle for the restaurant which has been fighting for their license for some time, but opposers say the troubles have just begun.

"There's enough violence in the world. I don't think we need to bring in another thing that will help stimulate violence," church member Peter Kline says.

As a part of the appeal, the board says Outback collected nearly 3 thousand signatures in favor of the permit and 27 hundred in opposition.

But before Outback can actually start serving alcohol they must meet certain criteria set by the ABC board.