The Utah House of Representatives voted Monday to allow restaurant patrons to order drinks before ordering food. House Bill 218 would also make more liquor permits available for certain types of dining establishments.
Under current statute, restaurant customers are required to order food if they want to order an alcoholic drink. If they don’t, the restaurant may be fined 500 dollars, which happened to several Utah establishments recently. Republican Gage Froerer of Huntsville says his bill will clarify the state’s policy and prevent future fines.
“What this says is that if a patron goes in, sits down looks at the menu with the intent to dine, we won’t be a burden on business and issue a fine to those restaurants,” Froerer said.
House Bill 218 creates a separate alcohol license category for dining clubs, so they will no longer be grouped with social clubs and bars. It would change the quota on dining clubs, creating 20 new licenses, and it would convert unused permits for reception centers to create 25 more licenses for clubs. Representative Jack Draxler of North Logan spoke against the bill.
“We keep moving in the direction away from the alcohol policy that we’ve had that I believe has served us well. I think, Representatives, we need to be very careful about this continuing trend toward liberalizing our alcohol laws,” said Draxler.
The House voted 60 to 8 to pass HB218, and send it to the Senate for consideration.