This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The venerable Cinegrill restaurant, which has served diners since the 1940s, is no more after closing at its last location at the end of May.
One factor leading to the 70-year-old eatery's demise: It was too close to a worship hall operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Cinegrill moved from its previous location of 21 years on 300 East near 400 South in 2014, citing a lack of parking.
Its latest home, in a strip mall at 1000 S. Main, had plenty of parking. But it sat next to a building leased by the LDS Church for Sunday services, so the restaurant could not get a liquor license. Cinegrill General Manager Christopher Lopez said at the time that alcohol sales accounted for about 25 percent of the restaurant's revenue.
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control denied Cinegrill a liquor license despite the fact that church officials had given the Italian restaurant written permission for a variance to sell alcohol next door.
But that magnanimous gesture made no difference. State law bars selling booze within 200 feet of a church even if that church signs off.
It didn't used to be that way.
Before 2008, a restaurant could get a variance to sell liquor within 200 feet of a church if the faith group agreed. But the Legislature changed the law, enforcing the proximity rule no matter the church's stance.
Why the change?
In 2006, the long-established Finn's Restaurant moved from Parleys Way to 1624 S. 1100 East within 200 feet of a Mormon chapel across the street.
When Finn's sought a variance, the church balked and the liquor commission went along.
The denial forced Finn's to change from an all-day restaurant to a breakfast and lunch establishment, since the inability to serve alcohol made it difficult to stay open for dinner.
The liquor commission took a hard line in the opposite direction when Riverton objected to a 12,000-square-foot liquor store being built at 12600 South and Bangerter Highway.
Then-Rep. David Hogue, R-Riverton, questioned whether the DABC had complied with state law requiring the department to consult with local authorities. He asked the commission to confer with city officials in Riverton, Herriman and Bluffdale before deciding on a store location.
Commissioner Nicholas Hales said he doubted any of the cities would cooperate "because it's pretty conservative out there."
So when the church objected to the selling of booze nearby in Finn's case, the commission listened. When city officials balked at plans for the liquor outlet, it was tough luck for them. The store was built.
The LDS Church looked like an obstructionist in 2006 to those wanting a liquor license for Finn's. Years later, the church looked generous, giving its approval for a variance for Cinegrill.
In the end, it didn't matter. The Legislature made sure of that.