Movie theater denied alcohol permit by ABC director

An appeal has already been filed by Malco

JONESBORO, Ark. – The ABC Administration Director Doralee Chandler has denied Malco Theatre their request for a liquor permit.

The application has been appealed and will be set for a hearing in front of the full board. The next hearing date is December 18 – however, the agenda for that meeting has not been published yet. A source says Malco may not present their appeal until January.

It was September 4 when the Jonesboro City Council barely approved the petition to be granted a license to sell alcohol as a private club. The request was denied by the director on November 13, NEA Report learned today. It’s an automatic denial when the prosecutor, the sheriff or the police chief object.

NEA Report also learned that the Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington sent a letter to the ABC Director objecting to the Malco’s permit request. Dated September 26, and obtained by Freedom of Information Act request filed by NEA Report on Tuesday, the letter states that monitoring alcohol consumption within a “darkened, loud environment” will be a “nightmare.”

“I can foresee alcohol being shared with minors, intentionally or unintentionally, inside the darkened theatres while movies are being shown,” Ellington writes. “In worst case scenarios, it could make it easier for minors to become victims of abuse. I cannot allow that.”

The letter goes on to say that movie theaters have long been where families gather. He said in Jonesboro, many families make go to the movies after lunch on Christmas day as a family tradition.

Read the full letter here: Ellington Letter

This was apparently the only letter of objection from law enforcement. However, it wasn’t the only opposition.

In addition to the prosecutors letter, ABC received 19 other letters from concerned citizens. One was from local alcohol opponent Bob Hester and another was Jake Guenrich, pastor at First Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge. ABC also received was a petition with 60 signatures attached that also opposed it.

The November 13 decision casts new light on a controversial November 20 letter by Malco Theatres Senior Vice President Larry Etter in the Jonesboro Sun. Etter wrote that, “Malco Theatres is very disappointed in the recent barrage of ill will spent on our business growth opportunities.”

This objection to Malco Theatres aligning itself with other respected entertainment is biased and prejudiced. – Malco SVP Larry Etter in The Sun

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin cast the deciding vote to approve the permit request but he has expressed regret in that decision since to The Jonesboro Sun. Following the September 4 vote (but before the mayor’s change of heart), Police Chief Rick Elliott said law enforcement officers are usually on duty at the movie theater and Malco would have more self-imposed restrictions than any other facility which sells alcohol.

Malco plans a two-drink limit for patrons while at the theater.

While some have yet to be convinced, the movie theater chain will make its case to ABC Board in the next two months. They will render a final decision at that hearing.

NEA Report reached out to Malco Theatre’s for comment. We’ve not received a reply as of this publication but we will update this story with any which are sent to us after the fact.





  1. This is insane to deny them a liquor license. Scott Ellington is an idiot to think that children will drink and or be abused!!
    Hs an idiot and needs to be replaced!!

  2. It’s insane to believe that its OKAY to consume liquor at a movie theater! Come on, its only takes about 1 1/2 up to what, 2 hrs to view the average movie? I’m appalled to feel that people cant hold their urge to drink during that short time span! Just look at the new location’s setup, and you should clearly understand that it’s near apartments where young families will reside. Parking will be tight, no doubt. Patrons will be walking out to their vehicles with family to get home. This is NOT a good idea. Even if their were a 2 drink minimum, how could Malco make a good profit? Common sense would say that Malco’s money maker would come from the overly priced popcorn, candy, and beverages! Someone could be tipsy to begin with BEFORE attending the theater, and all it would take is that 2 drink minimum to create a disaster to someone’s life. This is NOT acceptable!

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