(KCPW News) The Utah Legislature passed sweeping changes to the state's liquor laws earlier this year, abolishing the need for private clubs and the so-called "Zion curtains" separating bartenders and customers at restaurants. Those changes go into effect next Wednesday, but Sam Granato, chairman of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, says more change could be in the works. One possibility is eliminating quotas on restaurant liquor licenses.
"I am not here to second guess the Legislature, but it's something that needs to be reviewed in the near future so that we don't have perhaps a potential problem for these people who want to invest their time, money and talent in a business, and then not be able to perform the function," Granato says.
Granato says eliminating the quotas would be "common sense," and not a dramatic change like the state just went through. There are currently 840 restaurant licenses allowed in the state. Only 23 are available.
Commissioner Mary Ann Mantes adds that having quotas on restaurants is silly, and there hasn't been a problem with over-consumption in restaurants in the past.
"I think people go in to eat, they don't go in to drink," Mantes says. "They don't go in there and drink and drink and have a problem. They go in to eat."
There was concern that the state would run out of liquor licenses for private clubs this month, but it turned out to not be a problem yet. However, the commission plans to ask the legislature to consider increasing liquor license quotas to keep up with demand, and continue to support growth in the hospitality industry in Utah.