Foodservice Equipment Reports

Utah Mulls Liquor Laws

Would Utah’s restaurants morph into bars if the state’s longtime restrictions on display and dispensing alcohol, as well as the intent-to-dine laws, were repealed?

While only 5% of the liquor served in the state is poured in restaurants, Utah’s legislature continues to debate the fallout from lessening restrictions or tightening the reins on liquor laws. Among the laws now in effect are those requiring distinct signage and that eateries verbally confirm customers intend to order food not just alcoholic drinks.

With the state out of restaurant liquor licenses last year, lawmakers in a special session adjusted the population-based quota system to add 90 new licenses: 50 full-service and 40 beer and wine only. At the same time, they raised permit fees 10% to fund four new liquor enforcement officers and more DUI patrols.

The licenses were needed to meet the demand from new restaurants, including several out-of-state chains that wanted to open in the Beehive State.

Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, pointed out that restaurants, clubs and bars serve only 3% to 5% of the alcohol consumed in the state. C-stores, grocery stores and state- owned liquor outlets sell 95% of the alcohol in Utah.

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