It's past time for the Legislature to rejigger the population quotas that set the number of liquor licenses for bars and restaurants. It's a simple question of supply and demand. Restaurant chains are shying from doing business in the Beehive State because they can't get liquor licenses, and there is room to loosen the quotas without encouraging drunken driving and other forms of alcohol abuse.
Restaurateurs told an interim committee of the Legislature the other day that several major chains will not expand in Utah because they cannot get liquor licenses. That's because alcoholic beverages are critical to their bottom lines.
In the case of restaurant licenses, there's no rational reason to have a quota system at all. That's because people don't go to restaurants to get drunk. They go to eat. As a sideline, many patrons enjoy a beer or glass of wine with their meal. While binge drinking is a problem nationally and in Utah, that doesn't happen in restaurants.