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From The Zion Curtain To The Zion Moat: New Alcohol Laws Take Effect July 1

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Shabu

The Dining Club liquor license is going away and the new law requiring restaurants to declare they are a bar or a restaurant takes effect on July 1.  Legislators have told KPCW they realize some Park City businesses will have difficulty meeting the new requirements. Carolyn Murray has this:

Utah State Senator Jerry Stevenson says the impetus to change the liquor laws came from the restaurant association trying to address the Zion Curtin.  That’s the name given to signify the previous laws requiring restaurateurs to shroud alcohol preparation from their customers.  Stevenson says the new House Bill 442, passed in 2017, was an attempt to take down the Zion Curtain. They made some last minute changes in the 2018 legislative session because the original bill called for a 10 foot distance between a bar and tables that would seat childen.

“If you have a very small restaurant and you set a parameter around the bar for either children or the type of service you can have, it could affect the number of tables you have in the restaurant quite drastically.”

Some Park City Restaurants like Shabu have applied for a small restaurant license which allows children to sit next to the bar but only if other tables are not available.         

Park City Restaurant owner, David Wakeling has owned Collies Sports Bar and Grill on Main Street for about 5 years.  He remodeled his business adding a separate bar entrance and new walls to create a bar area which would give him the ability to meet the new ratio of food to alcohol sales.   

“We knew we had to do restaurant because we were a family establishment first because we knew becoming a bar wasn’t an option and so we did pretty much solely for figures because as a restaurant, you need to meet a 70/30 food to drink requirement.  With a bar license, I can put a lot of the alcohol under the bar license.”

Senator Stevenson says they have to make laws that work for the state as a whole.  

“It’s kind of a convoluted system…no, convoluted really isn’t the right word….it’s really a pretty good system and I don’t think we are any more harsh than most places in the country.  Park City caters to more of an international traveler.  We have to put a law together for the state of Utah and when we put these laws together we have to have them fit into both Bountiful and Park City.” 

Representative Tim Quinn wants laws to prevent drunk driving, binge drinking and underage drinking.  He says grocery stores were marketing alcohol in a way that was confusing for consumers.  

“On an end cap, there were Capri Suns, there were bags of Oreos and then on the next shelf down, there was hard lemonade where grandmothers who were tending their grandchildren, took them to the grocery stores and they see the Capri Suns, they see the Oreos, they see the lemonade.  They didn’t read that it was hard lemonade and bought it and served it to their grandkids when they got home.”    

Quinn admits the new bill creates problems for some Park City Restaurants. He brought in legislators   to see first-hand the difficulty business owners would have complying with the new law.

“I went up three or four times looking at the problems we had created in 442 and some of those existing establishments…and Park City is kind of unique in that many of the historic buildings that some of these establishments are in…I think they're 23 feet wide and some of the requirements in 442 wouldn’t work. Physically, it isn’t as if we don’t want to do it, they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t comply.”    

Wakeling says there are a lot of local restaurants that will have a harder time with the new requirements and he plans to continue work to change the law.

“ We are the ones that started a movement with the Summit County Republican Party over a year ago to try to get this all dismissed but to no avail.  As we all know with the Utah DABC, things can change at the tip of a hat.”

The new Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control law takes effect on July 1.  

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