This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
New signs, telling Utah consumers whether they are entering a bar or a restaurant that serves alcohol, became part of Utah law Tuesday.
The signs which read "This is a restaurant. Not a bar" or "This is a bar. Not a restaurant" were meant to clarify liquor service, particularly for nondrinking consumers.
But industry leaders say the signs create more confusion than clarity.
"A sign that says 'This is a restaurant. Not a bar' doesn't tell consumers anything," said Melva Sine with the Utah Restaurant Association. "It almost sounds like a consumer can't have an alcoholic beverage."
The Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) Commission approved the basic format and language for the signs last month. They must be at least 8.5 by 11 inches and be posted in a "conspicuous location near the entrance."
Restaurants that do not serve liquor are exempt from the requirement.
Businesses can download a copy of the sign on the DABC website.
The Utah Restaurant Association is encouraging its members to follow the DABC guidelines for the new signs but "also be creative" so customers know that liquor is available.
"They can enhance their signs, so customers know that alcoholic beverages are available for those 21 and older," Sine said.
The Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association took creativity a step further, working with an advertising agency to create signs that are more aesthetically pleasing than black type on white paper.
The signs are mandated as part of HB442, a massive liquor-reform bill that also modified the alcohol-dispensing barrier requirements aka "Zion Curtain."
Utah restaurants now have the option of having a 10-foot buffer from the bar where minors are not allowed; or build a half wall or railing that delineates between the dining and liquor-dispensing areas. Restaurants do not have to comply with the new dispensing-area rules until July 2022
While bars and restaurants serving alcohol were required to have the sign by Tuesday, a representative of the DABC said the department doesn't have the staff to enforce the law immediately.
"DABC compliance officers will make sure the businesses have the proper signs during standard field checks that take place throughout the year," said Terry Wood.
Dave Morris begrudgingly put the signs up in his four Utah bars, including Piper Down in Salt Lake City.
Morris complained that the legislation was passed without discussion among the hospitality industry or the DABC Advisory Committee, of which he is a member.
"Before they make a change like this, they really need to take input from the industry," he said.
"If we were the mining industry or cattle industry, they wouldn't arbitrarily make laws and rules like this."