Pocahontas restaurant gets private club permit amid opposition

POCAHONTAS, Ark. – While many’s hopes in Randolph County to buy liquor were dashed with the rejection of a permit to change the county wet, residents will soon be able to have a drink at dinner.

The restaurant Bella Piazza, 102 W. Everett Street in downtown Pocahontas, was granted it’s private club permit Wednesday at an ABC board meeting in Little Rock.

The page for Keep Revenue in Randolph County, the pro-wet group which lost its effort to turn the county wet after thousands of signatures were tossed, made a post on Wednesday calling it a victory.

“This morning the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division awarded a private club license to Bella Piazza Italian Restaurant in downtown Pocahontas,” The page admin wrote. “They granted the license in spite of letters of opposition to the license being filed by Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble and by Randolph County Clerk Rhonda Blevins.”

Tribble told NEA Report there was a number of reasons for his letter against the permit.

“One, we’ve got three private clubs,” Tribble said. “This particular establishment is a public restaurant, unlike the other three. As far as location, there’s a children’s clogging school directly across the street and then a short distance, caddy corner, is the Randolph County Library that a lot of children frequent for homework assignments and things of that nature. Those who can’t utilize internet in the county use it at the library. Another thing would be, within probably 1,000 feet, there’s five church structures near that establishment.”

Tribble also felt like the residents decided what they wanted by not meeting the 38-percent signature requirement needed to turn the county wet.

“To sum it up, it was my opinion that this past August, there was a local group that tried to get our county on ballot for wet county,” Tribble said. “They had to get 38-percent signatures for those registered voters and they fell short of getting enough signatures to have that put on ballot, so, you know, in my opinion, the majority of people and citizens in Randolph County didn’t want a liquor establishment.”

Because of the possibility of not getting the permit, the restaurant did not to much planning and according to the post by the pro-wet group, must still build a bar. However, they did achieve a full-bar license and will be able to serve mixed drinks like margaritas and daiquiris, in addition to beer and wine, the post stated.

The restaurant must also receive a certificate for the serving of alcoholic beverages, which should arrive in about eight more days from this post.

NEA Report reached out to Blevins. She was not in the office Friday, according to her staff. An email was sent to her requesting comment.

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