(KCPW News) A Utah House Committee voted yesterday to expand restaurant liquor licenses in the state, making room for establishments wanting to obtain a license for limited alcohol sales. The state maintains a cap on the number of liquor licenses that can be given out for both bars and restaurants. Deputy Director of Operations for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control John Freeman said the lack of available licenses stymies economic growth.
“We’ve had numerous calls from restaurants wanting assurances that they will be able to obtain a liquor license or a limited restaurant license from out of state and that are not willing to locate into the state without the assurance that they will be able to have that license because it’s part of their business plan,” said Freeman.
The legislation sponsored by Representative Gage Froerer would take several unused tavern licenses that are available and convert them to restaurant liquor licenses, which are few and far between. Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall said his support of this bill isn’t about making alcohol readily available in his city.
“One of the problems that we’re having with economic development and attracting businesses is with one restaurant license available, it’s hard to get people to even come in and talk to our city, because the likelihood of getting one license out of 242 other municipalities that might be looking for that,” he said.
The bill originally called for the legislature to remove the cap on restaurant liquor licenses altogether, but was substituted. It now moves to floor of the House of Representatives.