SANTA CLARA — Owners of the Granary Café in Santa Clara have been granted what is believed to be the city’s first limited liquor license, allowing wine and beer to be served with dinner in the quaint French restaurant.
The restaurant opened in the historic Mormon tithing granary in January 2015, and owners Wayne Johnson and his wife, Patricia Nevot Johnson, wanted to sell wine and beer in keeping with their café’s French theme and cuisine, Wayne Johnson said.
Being able to offer wine with dinner was important enough to fight for, Wayne Johnson said.
“Because we sell French food, because my wife is French,” Wayne Johnson said, “because a glass of wine, especially with certain meals … it really is a good thing.”
There are plenty of people who want the service. For example, the St. George Wine Club has 300 members, he said.
“It’s time for change, and change is always good,” Patricia Nevot Johnson said. “And this change is going to be good for Santa Clara.”
Santa Clara is a place people love to visit, she said, and a lot of tourists from out of state use the Internet and Yelp to locate good restaurants.
“They look for places to eat that are different, that are not fast food, that are not the norm. And they find us,” Patricia Johnson said of the area’s tourists.
After jumping through a lot of hoops, the state license was granted Dec. 22 at a Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control hearing in Salt Lake City. The license allows Granary patrons to purchase wine or heavy beer — beer with more than 3.2 percent alcohol — with a meal.
“This is our second hearing and our third try,” Wayne Johnson said. “We started this June and we were mostly concerned about the city (license). But we got through the city just fine … and we thought we were home free.”
Just before the last hearing, Wayne Johnson said, the state sent a liquor compliance officer to measure the distance between the Granary and the nearby stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a distance that was not being contested.
Then, at a hearing in October, the Johnsons were told that the license was denied because the LDS church was opposing it. The church had a say in the matter because the Granary is located within 600 feet of an LDS stake center.
The law allows an applicant to contest a denial, which the Johnsons did, proving three things: that there is a need for the establishment, that the Granary could fill that need and that the need cannot be easily filled nearby — meaning there are no other establishments in the area where wine is served with a meal.
The Johnsons proved those three points, which allowed the state liquor commission to override the church and grant the license, Wayne Johnson said.
“One thing we pointed out is that just between Santa Clara and Ivins, there’s 15,000 people … 10 percent of the county has only one place where they can get any kind of wine with their meal, or beer,” Wayne Johnson said, “and they thought that was very much a need that we could meet.”
In November, the Santa Clara City Council passed an ordinance to clarify the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance and bring it up to date. The new ordinance makes it easier for applicants to comply with both city and state regulations, City Attorney Matt Ence said in an earlier interview, and makes it easier to apply for an alcohol license.
For example, the old ordinance required an applicant to have five character references, all from residents of Santa Clara. Now, just three references are needed and there is no residency requirement.
The new ordinance has a provision for educational uses of alcohol, which will allow the new Harmons Neighborhood Grocer to hold cooking classes that use alcohol as an ingredient.
Other changes include removing a requirement that alcohol license holders appear before the City Council each year; and a clarification of how measurements are made for the 600-foot proximity restriction.
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