Utah restaurant owners rejoice: Puzzling signs may come down

This 2017 Fox 13 News file photo shows Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Compliance Director Nina McDermott holding up template signs that every Utah bar and restaurant would be required to display as of May 9, 2017. DABC, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 25, 2017 | File photo by Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow courtesy of Fox 13 News, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Restaurant owners may no longer have to post signs declaring they aren’t bars, but bar owners will still have to tell customers they are bars, if a revision to regulations enacted last year gets lawmaker approval.

Welcome to Utah, known for its strict liquor laws and an elaborate set of rules that often leaves visitors puzzled.

This 2017 Fox 13 News file photo shows Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s template signs that every Utah bar and restaurant would be required to display as of May 9, 2017. DABC, Salt Lake City, Utah, April 25, 2017 | File photo by Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow courtesy of  Fox 13 News, St. George News

Rep. Brad Wilson proposed Thursday to lift a requirement that restaurants post 8.5-by-11-inch signs declaring they are establishments that serve food. But the Kaysville Republican’s legislation leaves in place a requirement for bars to post signs although they will no longer have to say they aren’t restaurants.

He explains: “A restaurant is a restaurant and it’s clear what you can and can’t do in there.”

For bars, though: “We want to make sure that people understand that in Utah, minors cannot go into a bar.”

The proposal, which includes other changes to liquor laws, has yet to be debated by lawmakers. It was referred to the House Business and Labor Committee Friday.

Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, said restaurant owners are quite happy about the prospect of being able to take down signs that befuddled tourists and newcomers.

“It’s like me wearing a sign saying, ‘I’m a human,'” she said. “Most people know when they’re going into to a restaurant. It didn’t serve any purpose.”

Wilson acknowledged that he understands the industry’s complaints.

“I don’t think the restaurant sign was terribly effective and we had complaints,” he said. “And so, if it’s not working and people don’t like it, we’ll look at ways to change it.”

David Morris, president of the Utah Hospitality Association, which represents 56 bars in the state, said the current signs for bars create confusion for customers because some bars serve food. He’s always had signs at the four bars he owns that explain the bars are only open to people 21 and older, he said; his bars also serve food, which brings in about 40 percent of his revenue.

“Let me advertise what I am, not what I’m not,” Morris said. “Just tell people what we are and let’s rely on their intelligence to get them the rest of the way.”

Michele Corigliano, executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, said residents have had fun mocking the signs. But she said it wasn’t funny for perplexed visitors left with the impression they couldn’t get a beer or glass of wine at a restaurant.

“It’s another thing that makes us stick out like a sore thumb,” said Corigliano about the signs.

Utah’s strict liquor laws are driven by the state’s dominant religion, the Mormon church, which says the state’s laws are reasonable and effectively curtail binge and underage drinking and DUIs while still allowing people to drink responsibly. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught not to drink alcohol.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said the religion doesn’t oppose the bill as written.

Resources

Read more: See all St. George News reports on Utah Legislature 2018 issues

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press. AP writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.

Included photos courtesy of Fox13Now.com from an April 25, 2017, report by Ben Winslow on the subject matter.

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Content copyright 2018 The Associated Press (photos excluded). All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos copyright 2017, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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4 Comments

  • LunchboxHero February 25, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    (Actually, if some people out there *could* wear a sign that says “I’m a human”, it’d be a big help…)

  • Close The Borders February 25, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Some of the biggest BoozeHounds are LDS Bishops and Stake Presidents! Who are you kidding???? We even have Drug Dealers in the Church!

    • Striker4 February 26, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Yep all you have to do is look on the daily arrest reports to see who got arrested for DUI

      • statusquo February 26, 2018 at 6:29 am

        A DUI is real easy in Utah at 0.05 – hardly a “booze hound”

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