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Voters to decide on alcohol sales

By Greg Gelpi

A meat, three sides and an alcoholic beverage could be served at My Sister's Place after Tuesday.

In response to a petition, the Jonesboro City Council unanimously approved holding a special election for voters to consider allowing the sale of liquor by the drink. Alcohol can't be sold by the drink within the city limits currently, although several restaurants do so on the outskirts of the city.

My Sister's Place owner Dallas Matthews thinks it would be a great idea.

"A glass of wine or beer would enhance dinner," Matthews said. "I think it would bring more dining revenue to Jonesboro."

With restaurants on the outskirts of the city selling alcohol by the drink, the proposed ordinance could attract some of their business into the city, she said.

"It's a compliment to dinner and it raises sales," Matthews said. "We have a fish fry every Friday night and a beer or a glass of wine would go well with that."

She said she would waste little time in adding alcohol to the menu if voters approve the referendum.

"If it passes, I would put it in immediately," Matthews said. "No restaurant that is looking for high revenue is going to come into a town that is dry."

Jonesboro Main Street Manager Kathryn Lookofsky said the passing of such an ordinance would boost the economy along the stretch of offices and law firms lining Main Street by bringing in more restaurants.

"That is one of the first questions they ask," Lookofsky said. "That is one big factor in our recruiting."

Katherine Smith, retired Jonesboro city clerk and lifetime resident of the city, initiated the petition sparking the referendum.

"I want everyone to know that I would never be in favor of anything that I thought would be detrimental to the city or any of its citizens," Smith said previously. "Liquor-by-the-drink has no attraction to me personally but I would like to see more nice restaurants in the city and it will not happen until this is possible."

She decided to pursue the referendum after a meeting on the city's Livable Centers Initiative, a program sponsored and funded by the Atlanta Regional Commission that would involve downtown revitalization programs.

Allowing restaurants to serve liquor by the drink would stimulate growth downtown and be a boost to the economy, Smith said. She added that she has total confidence in the mayor and council to properly regulate the liquor sales.

The special election ballot asks, "Shall the governing authority of the City of Jonesboro be authorized to issue licenses to sell distilled spirits for beverage purposes by the drink, such sale to be for the consumption only on the premises?"

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

News Daily photographer Zach Porter contributed to this story.