April 19, 2006 – Posted at 6:29 p.m. CST , updated at 8:04 a.m. on 4/20/06
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board heard the appeal of a downtown restaurant seeking a private club permit on Wednesday.
Fine casual dining...that is how Sheffield's restaurant in downtown Jonesboro describes itself. But now the menu will include more than just food. Sheffield's filed its application on February 3 and on Wednesday the owner went before the ABC board in Little Rock to find out if they will be able to serve alcohol to the public.
"I would like to make a motion to overturn the director's decision and grant this permit," said an ABC board member. Sheffield's owner Carrie Aquino said, "It's a great day for Sheffield's and a great day for Jonesboro."
"The ABC board in Little Rock voted unanimously by a vote of four to nothing to give Sheffield's a liquor license," said Steve Jacobson, pastor of Friendly Hope Church, "It's something that greatly upset the opposition. This board is a joke. We outnumbered them on petitions nearly five to one, our witnesses we had two to one. To me, the evidence was overwhelmingly for us, but they voted against us four to zero. They already had their minds made up going in."
Sheffield's presented a case that a license would be a major boost to the restaurant plus bring more foot traffic to other downtown businesses.
"Most of those businesses supported Sheffield's and they voiced their support through letters, and that is something the board looks at," said attorney Scott Hunter, Jr.
Sheffield 's had the support of a number of businesses downtown, while the opposition brought a large contingent to the hearing, they felt lack of support from key city figures helped contribute to the decision.
"We asked the mayor and chief of police to take a side on it and they declined. They want to be neutral. The last time I looked the last fellow who was neutral on a moral issue was Pontius Pilate and we all know what he did," said Jacobson.
Despite coming out on the losing side of the decision, those against liquor in Craighead County say they aren't going away.
"We are going to fight this battle tooth and nail until we find a way to win it," said Jacobson. Now that Sheffield's has a full service permit, they plan to extend their hours to include dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"We have a few minor things we have to do, but in 60 days or a couple months, we'll be up and going," said Aquino.
The ABC has already approved permits for two downtown restaurants, Piero's Main Street Bistro and Julio's Mexican restaurant and a request by Main Street Pizza was denied.