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Mary Robin Casteel, the Administrative Director of Arkansas’s Alcoholic Beverage Control gave the go-ahead to two private club permit applicants but refused a third’s after receiving numerous objections.


During the ABC’s June 21st meeting in Little Rock, Director Casteel refused a new private club permit submitted by Alisha A. Jones of El Almacen of Searcy, 1805 East Race Avenue.


According to a document on the DFA/ABC’s website, Mayor David Morris and White County Sheriff Ricky Shourd objected to the private club. Aldermen Dale W. Brown, Mary Ann Arnett, and J.R. Howard; as well as City Council Member Mike Chulenburg and Justice of the Peace for District 12 Joel Pritchett, also submitted objections.

Eric Webb, Searcy’s chief of police, had no objections.

The ABC also reported receiving 230 letters and 60 petition signatures opposing the permit, compared to 227 letters and 32 petition signatures in support.

During that same meeting, Casteel approved the following private club applications: 

Colton’s Steakhouse & Grill, 1553 St. Louis Street, Batesville: Private club-new. No objections.

The Trophy Room at Fiesty B’s, 160 Greene 721 Road, Paragould: Private club-new, restaurant beer & wine combination replacement. No objections received from public officials. 

"We have a lot of customers that come in and wish to have a margarita or maybe one or two beers with their meals," says El Almacen manager, Alisha Jones. 

She says over the last five years she and the restaurant owner have discussed getting a permit to serve alcohol. 

Jones says most people she talks to are in favor of it.  "They're like great! That's awesome! We don't have to drive 50 miles to go to a restaurant to have a beer with our food. "

A group that spearheaded the effort to prevent the permit drove that 50 miles to have a meal at Red Lobster in Little Rock, where alcoholic beverage are served.  

Hypocrites, as many pointed out on their Facebook post.

Harding University President, Bruce McLarty wrote a letter to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration saying it goes against the university's policies and "as Christians we believe that being filled with the spirit of God stands in stark contrast to drunkenness."


Currently Elks, VFW and the Searcy Country Club all have private club permits and serve alcohol.

Perhaps that fact that the owner of  El Amacen, Alex Jasso,  is not white had more to do with this matter than the good Christian folk in Searcy or the ABC will admit.


El Amacen general manager Alisha Jones says the restaurant will appeal the ABC Board's decision to deny the permit.

Stay tuned for updates

In the meantime, take a look at a related post from May 8th:

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