This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
The Jell-O shots that are Utah liquor policy are beginning to firm up some, but skepticism is growing that there will be enough time left in the legislative session to get a comprehensive liquor bill done.
Negotiations have been going on for weeks now over the liquor reform legislation, the centerpiece of which is tearing down the despised Zion Curtain the secret room in restaurants where drinks have to be prepared, lest children become raging alcoholics at the sight of demon rum.
Really, he said, he is looking to have something by the end of the week. Of course, that's the same thing he and his Senate partner, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, have been saying for going on three weeks now.
It has become an issue of too many cooks spoiling the cocktail, with everyone tossing in some new ingredient or finding new problems. That, along with the complexity of the bill and the workload of legislative drafting attorneys, are bogging the bill down.
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, however. Wednesday afternoon, the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association sent this email to its membership, gathering urgent input (due by 2 p.m. Thursday) on specific provisions of the proposal:
A couple things worth noting: First, the buffer around a restaurant's bar area keeps growing. In early proposals, it was 10 feet, then 12 feet, and now is up to 15 feet. By the time the bill comes out it could be a quarter mile.
Second, the clarification of the types of restaurant licenses presents a tough choice for many. Do operations that now have a Dining Club license which lets them serve drinks without a patron having to order food and allows kids to eat with their parents choose to become a Social Club and ban minors from the restaurant? Or do they become a restaurant and require patrons to order food to get a drink?
Third, the scanning of IDs in order to sit at a restaurant bar would be new.
As we've reported previously, there are other provisions that apply specifically to beer retailers. Chief among them, all grocery stores and convenience stores would have to be licensed and inspected by the state, and beer could be displayed only in one central location as opposed to the clusters of cases of beer you see now in some stores.
So it's two steps forward, one step back, you do the hokeypokey and turn yourself about. That's what Utah liquor laws are all about.