Leader Blues

Monday, January 08, 2007

TOP STORY >>Liquor sales not wanted

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Ward area residents might soon see alcohol served next to Dude’s Place on Hwy. 38 if the state Alcohol and Beverage Control approves the application by Winthrop Ray Knight.

At a special council meeting last Tuesday night, members of the Ward City Council voiced their opinion against a restaurant with a private-club license, although their views may not have much influence on the ABC.

The council also voted to form a committee to regulate alcohol within the city and to continue the discussion at the regular council meeting on Monday.

The city council discussed Knight’s application and regarded his proposed establishment much like a VFW, never mentioning that his ABC application said it was to serve sit-down meals, much like Chili’s in Jacksonville.

ABC will make its ruling on the matter after the application has been on file for 30 days. The ruling could be made as early as later this month or sometime in February.

By law, only private clubs are allowed to serve alcohol in a dry area, hence the reason Knight applied for an ABC license for the new business he wants to open in Ward, a family-oriented, sit-down restaurant were patrons have the option of having an alcoholic beverage with their meal.

“The community has been asking for a good sit-down and eat restaurant without having to drive to Little Rock,” Knight said. “It will be a place people can gather for social events and have a fine meal with friends in a family atmosphere.”
Shadoux, Inc., the name of Knight’s proposed establishment, would serve steaks – filets, ribeyes, New York strips; baked potatoes; a salad bar, and at lunch times, possibly authentic gyro sandwiches.

Knight said the establishment would have limited hours of operation, memberships would be required for beer and wine, and people could not just come in and drink — they would have to eat too.

“I think it’s no different than family and friends going to eat at a number of restaurants in the Little Rock area that serve beer and wine. People can choose not to drink or to drink with their meal,” Knight said.

“We’re trying to focus on fine dining and socializing for the local community,” Knight added.
Knight also said he was unaware the council had met Tuesday night on the matter and said no one with the city has approached him about his application.

According to state code regarding private clubs obtaining an ABC permit, the city council’s opinion may or may not play a role in the approval or disapproval of the alcohol license.

Ward aldermen unanimously agreed that they do not approve of the liquor license getting approval by the ABC.

Some were concerned that Knight’s application, if approved, opened the door for other similar businesses in the area.
“I think we need to press forward in working on an ordinance to have in place to regulate alcohol within Ward,” Alderman Charles Gastineau said. “In time, we’re not going to keep them out.”

Alderman Ginger Tarno said she had tried several years ago to look into making Ward a wet city and limiting what could be brought in and where it went, but said she got “slapped down.”

“Everybody said ‘no, we don’t want that,’ but we did want that because it’s going to come,” Tarno said. “It’s coming, I think it will and we won’t have any limitations over it. I’ve not been against having liquor in the city of Ward, but we just need to limit where it comes, what can come in and where it can go,” Tarno said.

“We’re not going to keep it out; if it’s going to come, let’s limit it to where it goes and what can be here,” Tarno added.
Tarno also said that she didn’t want a private club in the area, but was for a sit-down restaurant like a pizza parlor that served beer with the pizza – the type of thing Knight is trying to do, but the council shot it down.

Knight says people are misinformed on what he has been working on bringing to the area for the last 12 months and wishes people would just come to him and ask him questions directly.