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The 70-year-old Italian restaurant Cinegrill will be operating without a liquor license for the first time in the Salt Lake City staple's venerable history.


Because the Utah nanny state says its new location is too close to a church, even though it's not a traditional chapel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which leases the space in question, says it's OK if Cinegrill serves liquor.

This could be a challenge for an Italian restaurant to not have the ability to serve wine with its pasta plates and garlic and olive-oil-soaked salads.

Cinegrill, which opened in the 1940s and has moved four times, left its location of 21 years on 300 East near 400 South, citing a lack of parking. It found a new place in a strip mall on Main Street and 1000 South that offered plenty of parking.

Cinegrill owner Mike Page obtained a lease and believed he had made all the necessary arrangements to transfer his liquor license from his old spot to the new one, which opened in September.

The eatery's operators didn't get all their paperwork done at the time of the move, so they waited until December to finalize the license transfer, said Cinegrill general manager Christopher Lopez.

That's when restaurant bosses learned they could not get the license because the LDS Church leases space next to the restaurant for Sunday worship services.

Page obtained a letter from the church granting its permission for Cinegrill to serve alcohol. The two sides agreed that the restaurant would close on Sunday and not openly advertise alcohol because the services at that location attract worshippers struggling with addictions.

The church's blessing doesn't matter.

State law dictates that restaurants cannot serve alcohol within 200 feet of a church — period. And a location holding communal services is, without exception, a church, said Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Vickie Ashby.

"We can't give a waiver for that," she said. "There is nothing in the law that allows for that. The only thing they can do to change it is to amend the law."

Ashby said Cinegrill did not apply for a transfer. The restaurant let its license expire at the old location and was applying for another one at its new home.

"We didn't know their restaurant was by a church," she said, "until they came in and told us at the time they were applying."

Lopez said alcohol sales account for about 25 percent of the restaurant's revenue. But, so far, the new location is doing better than the old one — despite the lack of spirits.

He attributes the boost to better parking.

"We're doing well at lunchtime," he said, "and our dinners attract about the same number of customers on a weeknight that we had on a weekend at the old place."

Still, a Chianti with those meatballs would make dinner so much sweeter.

More than ridesharing • I wrote recently about Addie Fausett, the terminally ill 6-year-old girl who created a social media sensation with her wish for Christmas cards.

Since then, the ridesharing company Lyft has launched a campaign to collect tens of thousands of holiday cards and deliver them to the Fountain Green child and her family on Christmas Eve.

Lyft communications Director Paige Thelen says 1,000 drivers across the country and several in Salt Lake City are carrying Christmas cards that passengers can sign. Folks also can go online to @Lyft with #DearAddie and write a yuletide message. Lyft will print it on a card and deliver it with the rest.

Christmas cheer • Mike Korologos was having dinner with his family at Cafe Silvestre at 3041 E. 3300 South recently when, as he returned to his car in the parking lot, he found a dent on the left bumper and panel.

Muttering a cuss word or two under his breath, he got into his car and noticed a piece of paper under the windshield wiper.

Written on the back of a Whole Foods grocery receipt was a memo that said: "My name is Eric Hays and I accidentally hit your car. Give me a call if you want" and listed his phone number.

Korologos phoned Hays to get his insurance information and told him his note was one of the most honorable things he had experienced in a long time. Hays responded that it was no big deal, saying he never thought twice about leaving the note. That act has inspired Korologos to "pay it forward" every chance he gets.