Juanita's, which opened for business today in the River Market, has filed paperwork with Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control to hold a Class B private club license that would allow it to stay open until 5 a.m. every day.
General manager James Snyder said he thought longer hours would bolster his business and be good for the River Market. Now, he said, when the clubs along President Clinton Ave. close at 2 a.m., the hordes drive to 5 a.m. clubs, many of which are some distance. More people would come to the River Market if they knew they could stick around until the wee hours, Snyder said.
The ABC stopped issuing Class B licenses in 2001. According to the ABC, only 27 Class B permits remain in Pulaski County, five of which are inactive. After 18 months, an inactive license becomes invalid.
Juanita's is applying to use a permit held by the Arkansas Deaf Association since 1989. Snyder describes Juanita's relationship with the Deaf Association as a partnership. The Deaf Association will be "an ongoing beneficiary," he said.
"We're aware of the opposition we may face," Snyder said. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the neighborhood and the business community happy.
"In terms of being good stewards to the neighborhood, I'd like to think that people would look at us and think that we're going to operate as good or better as every other 5 a.m. club."
Snyder said Juanita's had struck deals with nearby hotels to offer its customers reduced rates, and that the club would continue to participate in Yellow Cab's Safe Ride Home program. A high-resolution camera will soon be installed on the clubs roof to monitor activity in the free circle parking lot near the I-30 Bridge off ramp. And Snyder said Juanita's security would patrol nearby lots, much like it did on South Main.
An ABC official said the process to approve a permit move takes between 30 and 60 days and includes signage on the business, notice in a newspaper, a public comment period and consultation with city officials before ABC director Michael Langley makes his decision.