Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control out of bar licenses again

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is running out of bar licenses for potential business owners again after a similar shortage two years ago, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said.

The liquor commission handed out its last 2019 bar permits Tuesday to two establishments in Lehi and West Valley City, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Five other business were placed on the waiting list, some of them planning to open in November and December, department officials said.

Three permits are expected to become available before July 2020 following new population information, officials said.

After applying for a permit with the department, businesses must wait for a population increase due to a state law permitting one bar for every 10,200 people, commission officials said. Owners could also acquire a permit if another bar shuts down and relinquishes its license or if a permit is bought from another owner.

Two years ago, the state had a similar shortage with some business owners waiting more than a year for a license. The Legislature made minor changes to liquor laws then that helped alleviate the shortage.

Most applicants have been able to get a license with little or no wait since then, but the commissioner chairman says it is time to review the population quota.

“The Legislature probably ought to take a look at this again,” Commission Chairman John Nielsen said. “I hate to go back to the situation we had a few years ago, where we had 20 or 30 people waiting for bar licenses.”

The state should not be preventing businesses from operating and serving the public, he said. Some business owners agree.

“The Legislature has put us into a spot where we have to beg again,” said Tim Ryan, owner of the ‘Bout Time Pub and Grub franchise, one of the last two establishments to receive a permit this year.

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