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ABC director scolds movie theater managers seeking alcohol permit

Representatives of a North Little Rock movie theater seeking to add beer and wine to its concessions received a scolding Wednesday from the director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.

ABC’s board of directors was scheduled to hear an appeal Wednesday by the manager of the Regal McCain Mall Stadium 12 movie theater, whose application for a beer and wine permit was denied by ABC Director Michael Langley in August. A few minutes into the hearing, however, the board voted to continue the proceedings to another date.

The vote came after Langley complained that the theater had made no effort to find out what the agency would require of it.

Michael Gonzales, the theater’s general manager, and John Curry, vice president of food service for Regal Cinemas, the theater’s owner, were unable to give detailed answers to questions about the level of security that would be in place to prevent underage drinking. They said they would visit with ABC officials to find out what would be required.

“You should have come and done that before,” Langley said. “Nobody’s called to come to talk to us about it before, when I first turned it down.”

Langley said that although Regal employees may have received national training on alcohol laws, they have not received the Arkansas-specific training offered by ABC.

“I’m disappointed that nobody from your company, if you sell alcohol in other places, called to say, ‘Is there going to be an issue with ABC? Are there things that we need to do with ABC?’ Because even the smallest places around here call,” he said.

Curry said he had been under the impression that the application was denied solely because of opposition from the North Little Rock Police chief and said representatives of the company had spoken with the chief. He apologized for not calling ABC.

Langley said he had additional concerns about the application, beyond the police chief’s opposition.

“An R-rated movie, that’s going to get 18 and up, but that PG-13 movie … is going to draw all kinds of teenage kids,” he said.

A date for the continuation of the hearing was not immediately announced. Gonzales and Curry declined to talk to reporters.

Two Arkansas movie theaters, Market Street Cinema in Little Rock and MovieLounge in Fort Smith, currently have permits to sell beer and wine. If the Regal were to obtain a permit, it would be the first non-art-house theater in the state to do so.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Cinemas operates theaters in 42 states and serves alcohol in theaters in several of those states, including Tennessee.

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