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EL DORADO -- El Dorado is getting something that larger cities have -- a movie theater that will sell beer and wine.

Mayor Frank Hash has signed off on a city permit for Stars Cinema to sell beer and wine, and the El Dorado Police Department has followed suit.

The application has been forwarded to Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control. Stars, the city's only movie theater, is awaiting the state's approval, owner Jake Turner said.

Turner said he is confident the application will be approved, noting, "There's no criteria that has not been met. We expect to hear back from them in a couple of weeks."

El Dorado -- which is surrounded by mostly farming communities -- has a population of about 18,000. The city has been adding new amenities usually found in much larger cities, such as an entertainment district. The Murphy Arts District opened in 2017.

The Stars cinema is about 2½ miles west of the Murphy Arts District.

The El Dorado City Council considered Stars' plan on June 21, and with a vote of 4-3, members authorized Hash to OK the city permit.

Later, the council agreed to wait until member Billy Blann returned from an out-of-town trip to allow him the opportunity to weigh in and to invite Stars theater owners to the July 5 council meeting.

The vote, however, stood and was not rescinded. Council members Vance Williamson, Tony Henry and Mary McAdams voted no on the motion.

"Considering, to date, the public has not voiced any notable opposition to my knowledge, I'm signing and releasing the application today," Hash wrote in an email Tuesday.

"As far as I'm concerned, the matter is now closed and no additional discussions will be necessary at our next council session," the mayor wrote.

Hash suggested that city's Police Chief Billy White "do the same," and White said he signed the application Tuesday and submitted it to the state.

Several people have posted comments about Stars' plans on social media sites and the responses have been mixed.

Turner said he has received similar feedback, adding that he has personally received five phone calls from people who shared their thoughts.

"There's been just as much positive feedback as there has been negative feedback," Turner said.

Turner said he came up with the idea two years ago after noticing several articles about movie theaters across the country selling beer and wine and expanding food options, including serving dinner, to boost concession sales and improve the movie-going experience for audiences.

He said Stars has laid out a plan to thoroughly monitor beer and wine sales, proposing to:

• Continue to provide the weekend services of an off-duty El Dorado police officer, who will work security and undergo Alcoholic Beverage Control training, monitor the point-of-sale register and patrol theaters to ensure that minors do not come into contact with alcohol.

• Use a black light to detect fake IDs as the alcohol-control agency suggests.

• Use wristbands and/or black-light stamps to identify customers who have purchased alcohol.

• Retrain Stars' employees in removing and disposing of alcoholic beverage containers that are left by customers.

• Allow Alcoholic Beverage Control agents to train employees who are involved in alcohol sales to identify fake IDs and train them on the legal sale of beer and wine.

• Install extra surveillance cameras to closely supervise alcohol sales.

• Use one register in the concession stand for beer and wine sales. A trained worker will check every ID.

Metro on 06/29/2018

Print Headline: El Dorado cinema to offer beer, wine

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