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Tribune Editorial: No more fooling around, eliminate the Zion Curtain

Published February 28, 2017 5:36 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

You order a single shot of whiskey. The bartender brings you an extra sweet Pina Colada with a pineapple slice and one of those little umbrellas that pokes you in the eye.

You tell him to pour it out and start over.

Weeks ago, House Majority Leader Brad Wilson promised his colleagues in the Utah Legislature a bill that would finally do away with the ridiculous law that makes many restaurants hide their bars behind a 7-foot wall that was instantly, and derisively, dubbed the "Zion Curtain." Monday, the Kaysville Republican brought forward a 144-page monstrosity that would, in the unlikely event it were to pass, make so much of what is bad about the state's liquor laws even worse.

Tuesday, after the Ray Liotta-style hard stare he got from the restaurant industry, Wilson tried again. The newest version is an improvement over the first draft, but still tries to do an awful lot in a short time, and still insults the intelligence of Utah parents, when all that was necessary was a clean bill to kill the Zion Curtain once and for all.

The first draft of House Bill 442 would have given some establishments the option of operating without the absurd attempt to shield non-drinkers, especially children, from the supposedly debilitating sight of seeing beer drawn, wine poured or cocktails mixed. But, in an apparent attempt to balance good sense with more foolishness, that draft would also slam restaurants with rules that would cost them money, customers or both, to a degree that would put many of them out of business.

The first idea was to create an alternative to the Zion Curtain, which Wilson really, really didn't want to hear called the Zion Moat. That's a requirement that any customers with children in their party have to sit at least 10 feet from the bar.

Restaurants complained that, in many establishments, the buffer would sweep out so much of the business that families with children would essentially be banned.

Tuesday's idea was something called the Washington State Wall, because it is cribbed from that state's code. It requires a buffer of maybe five feet and, instead of a 7-foot opaque barrier, would require only a 42-inch high divider, such as a railing or row of plants, to make clear that this is the bar and that is the dining area.

The Zion Fern Bar would be better than either the wall or the moat, though the whole approach still puts too many demands on small businesses and still disrespects the ability of parents to choose where they, and their families, will eat.

It's too bad we can't just skip to the end of this story and tear down those walls.






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