DABC Signs Go Up But Bar Owners Maintain They Don’t Make Sense

May 9, 2017

Many of the new laws passed during this year’s legislative session take effect Tuesday. That includes some changes to Utah’s liquor laws,with which business owners in the food and drink industry are still coming to terms.

Deno Dakis is the owner of Gracie’s gastropub in downtown Salt Lake. And according to a brand-new, state-imposed sign hanging next to the door, Gracie’s is licensed as a bar, not a restaurant.

"Which is not true," Dakis says. "We are a restaurant and we are a bar."

While Gracie’s does have a bar liquor license, it also has a food menu complete with appetizers, burgers, entrees and desserts. So Dakis is worried that visitors will see the sign proclaiming the establishment as a bar and misunderstand it to mean that they’ll have to go somewhere else to eat. 

The sign "seems like it discourages people from eating," he says, "which is asinine. It’s ridiculous," he adds. "The sign is ridiculous."

Credit Nicole Nixon

Around the corner at Squatters, a new decal hangs in the front window declaring that establishment to be a restaurant, and not a bar. But manager Brittany Demers says that’s not exactly true for that joint, either. Because Squatters has a dining club license that’s still active for about another year, minors must be accompanied by someone who’s at least 21 years old. 

"So it’s kind of a weird sign to be putting up," Demers says. "We’ll have couples come in that are 18 or 19 on date night, and can’t come and eat with us because neither one of them are 21."

The signs are just one part of the new law designed to reform some of Utah’s liquor regulations. Restaurants will now be able to serve alcoholic beverages an hour earlier on weekends and holidays, beginning at 10:30 a.m. for brunch.

The price of alcohol at state-run liquor stores will go up 2% beginning July 1.  That’s when the so-called Zion Curtains could begin coming down. Restaurants can now begin submitting applications for the structural changes, choosing between the curtain, a 10-foot zone free of minors around a bar, or a shorter half-wall that’s five feet from the restaurant’s serving area.