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ABC Denies Liquor Permits.

The director of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control has denied a private liquor permit for proposed Chili's Grill & Bar and Outback Steakhouse locations in Jonesboro, but the companies will likely appeal the decision.

The two restaurants wanting to add locations in a vacant Elk's Lodge building filed applications for the permit Oct. 17. The permits would allow them to serve alcohol in dry Craighead County.

Some county pastors, public servants and restaurateurs oppose the restaurants' selling alcohol, and some have written to the ABC asking that the permits be denied. Others have said the restaurants, which would be part of a 20,000-SF shopping center, would benefit the Jonesboro economy.

ABC Director Robert Moore says he often denies permits in controversial cases, allowing applicants to appeal the decision to the five-member ABC Board at a public hearing 30 days later. Staffers at the ABC say the applicants will receive letters notifying them of Moore's decision, after which the restaurants' have 15 days to appeal. If the restaurants appeal, the board will make a final decision at a public hearing Dec. 15.

Chili's and Outback have said they won't come to Jonesboro if they can't serve alcohol.

Chili's Grill & Bar, which is owned by Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., has 636 locations in 46 states. Brinker operates five Chili's Grills in Arkansas in Fayetteville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Fort Smith and Rogers. Chili's has two locations in Memphis, about an hour southeast of Jonesboro.

Tampa, Fla.-based Outback Steakhouse Inc. operates 540 Outback locations in 47 states. In Arkansas, the chain has Outbacks in Springdale, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Hot Springs and Fort Smith. Outback also has a restaurant at Memphis.

Before year's end, Outback will have added 12 restaurants in states like California, Texas, Georgia and Alabama.
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Author:Turner, Lance
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 22, 1999
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