Alcohol Debate Heats Up - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR--Brett Garrett Reports

Alcohol Debate Heats Up

February 16, 2006--Posted at 7:15 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR--Now that Outback Steakhouse has been a granted a liquor license, can other restaurants such as O'Charley's, Ruby Tuesday's and Chili's expect the same treatment? It's a valid question and its' possible answer is feared by many churches throughout Jonesboro.  Another downtown establishment, Julio's Mexican Restaurant, is under construction and expects to open and serve alcohol in the next two months. 
"Our menu will be pretty much like tex-mex southern style and we'll have a little bit of a Chicago setting to it, it will be a little bit different but I think people will like it," said Julio Diaz, Co-Owner of Julio's Mexican Restaurant.

A little bit different in the fact that at Julio's Mexican Restaurant patrons will have the opportunity to order alcoholic beverages. It's an issue that has a number of churches upset.

"It's not so much the liquor itself to me the vital issue is that the voice of the people is being ignored," said Pastor Jerry Jolly of Temple Baptist Church.      

In addition to Julio's, Piero's already serves alcohol and Sheffield's is applying for a permit. With several downtown restaurants serving alcohol it's more of a situation of variety than competition.

"That is just better for us it's more business more people downtown and I hope others will succeed," said Diaz.

With various restaurants in Jonesboro like Outback receiving liquor licenses it's something that Diaz thinks is a good thing because it keeps money here in Craighead County.

"I'm excited. It's great; it doesn't make any sense to discourage business owners like ourselves, Outback and 501. All you are doing is saying go spend your money in Memphis or Little Rock," said Diaz.

"There is something wrong when the citizens vote and because of legislation or legal maneuvering the people are ignored," said Pastor Jolly.

But not all of the people, thousands have signed petitions supporting liquor permits for restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse. With more and more restaurants applying for private club licenses, many area churches fear the trend will continue. 
"I think that as long as they are experiencing success then naturally it's going to continue," said Jolly.

For restaurants like Julio's they hope they are ahead of the curve.

"One day we will look back and say that wasn't that bad of an idea after all," said Diaz.

Currently construction is going on at Julio's to bring the building up to code before the grand opening which is expected to be sometime in mid to late March.


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