When the Old Town liquor store temporarily closed mid-January due to staff shortages, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said it would be a minimum of three weeks before they reopened.
However, after more than six weeks, the DABC director of communications Terry Wood said they still don’t have a set opening date.
"I wish we could give you a timeline for opening the Sweet Alley store at this time," Wood said. "Best estimate would be sometime this month, the month of March. But we thought it might be near the end of February too. Here's what it depends on ... It's all staffing and that means all of Park City."
He said the Old Town location isn’t the only understaffed liquor store in Park City. The department also has two full-time and some part-time positions open at the store on Snow Creek Drive near The Market.
To help with the shortages the Swede Alley employees were relocated to other liquor stores around town. Even with the additional staff, they’re still having issues keeping up with the demand.
"We don't want to see lines outside the Snow Creek store," he said. "We're very aware that there have been lines out there. But when we're short on staff at the snow Creek store, it's difficult to move everybody through quickly."
Part of the issue with employing cashiers could be the pay. Full-time positions at liquor stores in Park City generally start at $13.50 per hour, which Wood said is higher than other areas of the state.
"That's above the $11.37 I believe it is that they make in the Salt Lake City area," he said. "Park City and Moab both have a higher starting pay because they're both resort areas. And it's more expensive to live in both areas."
A bill making its way through the legislature would increase the DABC’s yearly budget to pay for wage increases across the state. The bill has a $4.3 million fiscal note attached to it and would use general fund revenue to pay for the change in budget.
The bill’s sponsor Democratic Sen. Gene Davis said the DABC brings in more than $500 million in revenue every year. But they don't see the majority of that money because 85% of the department’s gross sales goes towards the state’s general fund.
Speaking during a House committee meeting last month, he said by upping the DABC’s annual budget it could fix their high turnover rate.
"The DABC Liquor Control commissioners came to the committee during the interim, and indicated that they had a major problem with turnover over...107% turnover at DABC," Davis said. "What we found was really a wage problem. We were paying so far below market for a retail outlet that nobody was applying, and nobody was being hired because applications were not there."
If the bill gets signed into law, employees could see a raise for fiscal year 2022, which starts July 1.