Utah restaurants adapting to changes in alcohol laws, but it’s costing them money

Utah restaurants adapting to changes in alcohol laws, but it’s costing them money (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - The controversial signs that proclaim whether a business is a restaurant or a bar in Utah may see changes, a year after they became a requirement.

If passed, HB 456 would eliminate the signs at restaurants, while bars would add to their existing signs to emphasize that nobody under 21 is permitted.

It’s another change to Utah alcohol law for businesses who are required to keep up or face losing their licenses.

A year after HB 442 passed through the legislature, some restaurants and bars are still adapting

“We still kind of have that grey cloud above us ‘what’s going to happen to our liquor license,” The Cliff co-owner Wendy Moler-Lewis said. “It’s huge and it means, can we stay open or not.”

The Cliff had a “club” license which allowed them to bring in 40-percent of their revenue from alcohol sales. Under HB 442, Club licenses were set to be eliminated in 2018 and businesses could choose between being a “restaurant”, which Utah law requires not receive more than 30-percent of their income from alcohol sales, or being a “bar” and not allowing patrons under 21.

“We never imagined when we opened this restaurant that every legislative session we would have the crazy alcohol-related bills that create these hurdles and really jeopardize our future,” Moler-Lewis said.

The Cliff is also preparing for the possibility of adding a so-called “Zion Wall” that would separate the bar and restaurant portions of their business. The estimate they have on putting in a wall is around $10,000.


State Senator Jim Dabakis (D – Salt Lake City) proposed a delay of the 0.05 DUI law, but it failed in committee Thursday.

Utah law is set to change on New Year’s Eve to reduce the legal limit from .08 to .05.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off