New liquor bill will do away with Utah’s much maligned signs designating a bar or restaurant

Utah House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, who has run many major liquor law reform bills in the past, this session is sponsoring another booze bill that, while minor in some areas, also will help out some restaurants and bars with their unique problems.

Wilson, R-Kaysville, tells UtahPolicy that his new bill – coming as it does late in the 2018 general session – will do away with one item much made fun of in public:

The required signs in restaurants with liquor licenses that say: “This is a restaurant.”

A number of Utahns have wondered at the signs.

As if the tables, waiters, menus and the glimpse of the kitchens weren’t enough to let you know you could buy food here.

The sign that says: “This is a bar” will be reworded, said Wilson, to something like: “This is a bar, no one under 21 allowed.”

The reasons for the current “restaurant” and “bar” signs was to tell folks what kind of liquor establishment they were entering.

Especially for those who don’t drink, i.e., faithful Mormons, the signs were an attempt to let them know that if they came with their minor kids into the “bar” establishment – which might look like a restaurant from the outside — they would have to sit in a segregated area or not be served.

And so those families could just avoid going in the front door – they wouldn’t want to go to a “bar” anyway.

With the passage of his bill, says Wilson, the restaurant signs will come down, and the “bar” signs will be more explicit – letting families with kids know they can’t, or don’t want to, go into this establishment.

Another change, says Wilson, is specifically aimed at the newly-remodeled Utah Jazz arena.

Current liquor law requires someone who has eaten in a special area (so-called “club seats), and still has a beer, to be able to take that beer to their arena seat. Under current law (who says Utah liquor law isn’t odd?), when you’ve finished your meal, but still have a beer, you have to dump out the beer, walk to your seat area, and buy another beer.

“We are going to have a special arena license” that will allow a beer consumer to carry his open beer from one place to another in the facility.

Finally, says Wilson, the soon-to-be-remodeled Salt Lake City International Airport will have more liquor outlets than previously planned.

So, instead of allowing only 10 liquor licenses for the huge facility, there will be 14 available. And as already announced, some of the dining and drinking airport venues will be outside of security areas so that non-traveling folks can enjoy the new facility on their own.

Wilson said there may be a few other “unique” technical changes in the bill to allow a restaurant in a very narrow building to still have a bar area without having to put up the old Zion Curtain – which if you have paid any attention to Utah liquor law reform you already know all about.