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Cinema gets 2nd shot on alcohol

Riverdale 10 to tell plan for keeping wine, beer from young by Glen Chase | September 10, 2014 at 2:29 a.m.

A proposal to allow beer and wine sales at the Riverdale 10 Cinema in Little Rock will go before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board next week.

Michael Langley, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control administrative division, initially denied a request from Riverdale 10 manager Matt Smith for an on-premises beer and wine permit over concerns about steps the movie theater would take to prevent underage patrons from obtaining alcohol.

However, Langley said Tuesday that discussions with the theater have resulted in several ideas on how to allow beer and wine sales, which Smith said was permitted at his now closed Market Street Cinema operation.

"This is a bigger operation, but has variables that can be managed," Langley said.

The board will take up Smith's appeal of the permit denial when it meets Sept. 17.

Riverdale 10 is continuing Market Street's practice of showing independent, foreign, art and documentary films, which attract older audiences. In addition, Langley noted the Riverdale 10 auditoriums are small and don't offer stadium seating, making it easier for ushers to monitor patrons who buy alcoholic beverages. Other approaches might include limiting the number of auditoriums where patrons during movies.

"This can be dealt with," he said, especially since Smith "is willing to work with us."

Noting he never had a problem with underage drinking at his Market Street location, Smith said he would do whatever the board wanted to continue serving beer and wine. His attorney, Stephen Morley of North Little Rock, has been meeting with the agency.

"We have an adult customer base," Smith said. "Eighty percent of our customers are over the age of 40. We cater to grown adults."

"Grown folks go to the movies at Riverdale 10," he added. "I'm doing at Riverdale 10 basically what I did at Market Street, just a new location, new equipment, new projectors, new sound."

Only one objection to the permit application was filed. Little Rock's new police chief, Kenton Buckner, expressed concern about the potential for underage drinking, but in written comments, Buckner said he wouldn't have any objections "provided imposed conditions are provided by Mr. Morley."

Langley said Tuesday that the Riverdale 10 proposal involves a larger facility, so it could set a precedent for other, larger theaters interested in serving alcohol.

A year ago, Regal McCain Mall Stadium 12 sought a permit to serve beer and wine at the North Little Rock theater. That plan was dropped after the permit application was denied and theater management was unable to work out a plan to prevent alcohol from being shared with underage customers.

The only other theater in Arkansas with an on-premises beer and wine permit is the Movie Lounge in Fort Smith.

Smith said his Riverdale 10 theater, even without 3D movies and stadium seating, is getting a good response since opening in June, drawing regular customers from his old theater as well as new ones.

Given his target audience, Smith said, "A movie for that kind of clientele is doing well at Riverdale 10, and that's who we're catering to."

Business on 09/10/2014

Print Headline: Cinema gets 2nd shot on alcohol


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