Liquor officials: New law means no beer at karaoke or ax-throwing venues

File photo by specmihey/Pixabay, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The state liquor commission said Tuesday that beer will not be allowed at a Salt Lake City karaoke business or an Ogden ax-throwing venue because neither fits the definition of a “recreational amenity,” under a law that takes effect in mid-May.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control denied the beer license requests from Salt Lake City’s Heart & Seoul Karaoke and Ogden’s Social Axe Throwing, saying that while both businesses might qualify as recreational amenities under the current state statute, they won’t on May 14, The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Tuesday.

That’s when House Bill 453 takes effect. It lists 14 specific recreational amenities in which beer can be served.

Karaoke and ax throwing did not make the list.

The new law took Brody Horton and Matt Smith, the owners of Heart & Seoul Karaoke, by surprise. Last month, they came to the commission requesting the beer-only license. They believed their business fit the recreation theme, because customers pay a per-person admission fee and then rent a room with a music player and a microphone.

The liquor commission was unsure and postponed the request until April to determine if the business qualified. The commission even sought advice from the Utah attorney general’s office.

“The Legislature spoke last session and said this is the way they want to go,” said commissioner Thomas Jacobson. “They’ve tied our hands.”

There are other ways, however, a businesses could secure a beer license, Jacobson said. Owners could change their business models to fit the new law or add more food options so that beer sales totaled less than 15 percent of annual receipts.

“Or you can talk to your legislators,” he said, “and get this law changed.”

Social Axe owner Mark Floyd was seeking a third recreational beer license for his expanded Ogden location.

Floyd was frustrated by Tuesday’s decision to deny a beer license.

“The commission is out of line,” he said.

Floyd said he planned to get a lawyer “and get things changed.”

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