‘Zion Curtain’ bill expected to be public Monday; Lawmakers still working toward compromise

Zion CurtainThey’re getting closer, but there’s not yet a deal in place on proposed legislation to get rid of the Zion Curtain.

There are still a few hurdles standing in the way.

  • If children are sitting within 10 feet of where alcoholic beverages are being prepared, restaurants would be required to construct a barrier. That would affect approximately 400 restaurants that are currently exempt from the Zion Curtain under a grandfather clause.
  • The proposal would do away with a dining club license, which would require some current establishments to get a restaurant license. That’s problematic because it would change the ratio of food to liquor and alter their hours of operation.

Lincoln Shurtz, the lobbyist for the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association (SLARA), says they took Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, on a tour of several restaurants Friday night to demonstrate where the proposal falls short.

“Requiring those grandfathered restaurants to put up a barrier is a big problem for our members,” said Shurtz. “The current compromise would compel them to establish a curtain or create the buffer zone.”

The dining club license is another big issue for Shurtz’s clients.

“There are different hours of operations with different food ratios. A dining club requires a 60/40 ratio of food to liquor, while a restaurant is 70/30. The current proposal would force them to choose a restaurant license.”

The legislation should be unveiled and sent to a committee in the next week. That leaves a truncated timeline to get anything done as lawmakers must wrap up their work by midnight on March 9.

House Speaker Greg Hughes previously told UtahPolicy.com that he thinks lawmakers will ultimately do away with the Zion Curtain in some form. Shurtz says he’s hopeful that they’ll be able to get a deal done even though there is just a week and a half left in the 2017 session.

“If we can get to yes, we’ll get rid of the Zion Curtain in some circumstances,” he said. “The problem right now is with those establishments that are currently grandfathered. We want to provide an option for establishments if they want it.”