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Mixx fails to pay fines, loses liquor license

Published December 4, 2013 9:43 pm

Drinking • Decision ends a contentious year between SLC bar and DABC.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Private parties may still take place at the Mixx Reception Center, but they'll go on without alcohol as the 2-year-old Salt Lake City establishment recently lost its state liquor license.

Last week's decision by the state liquor commission not to approve a license marks the end of a contentious relationship between the Mixx and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).

In December 2011, when Mixx owners realized they could wait years to get a club liquor license, they decided to change their bar concept and become a reception center, a category where state liquor licenses are plentiful.

At the time, R.B. Edgar and Alan Moss assured the state liquor commission that they would operate under the reception center guidelines and not as a public bar — subleasing the building to third parties for banquets or "event functions" before alcohol is sold.

They were granted the license and opened in February 2012 at 615 W. 100 South, which once housed the Trapp Door.

But recently, compliance officers cited the Mixx for numerous liquor violations including being open to the public, serving drink specials and having an unauthorized dispensing area — a violation of Utah's "Zion Curtain" law.

"We have a lot of concerns, because they are operating outside of their license type," compliance officer Abe Kader told the alcohol commission at its October meeting.

In all, the Mixx racked up $6,000 in fines, which "have been financially difficult to pay," said Moss, who also operates the Area 51 Dance Club. "It's caught us off guard."

The two owners asked the liquor commission if they could make four equal payments to the DABC and still be allowed to keep the liquor license, which expired Oct. 31. They explained their reasoning in a detailed email sent to commissioners on the morning of the October meeting.

The commissioners, saying they were wary of setting a precedent and wanting to have time to digest the contents of the email, decided to take the request under advisement. The commission's inaction meant the Mixx license expired and Edgar and Moss would have to reapply in November.

The Salt Lake Tribune requested a copy of the Mixx email under the Government Records Access Management Act (GRAMA), but was denied. An appeal sent to Director Salvador Petilos also was denied. Edgar and Moss, on the advice of their lawyer, also refused to release the letter.

When the liquor commissioner returned in November, members again voiced concern over the unpaid fines and voted unanimously to reject a new license. The state also will go after a bond, posted when the Mixx opened, to collect the fines.

It is unclear if the Mixx can continue to operate successfully without a liquor license, and Edgar and Moss have not responded to telephone calls or emails from The Tribune to answer the question.

But they are persistent about getting some sort of liquor permit.

They requested two special-event permits: one for a "Thanksgiving Weekend" party and another for a "Pearl Harbor" party in early December, according to compliance officer Nina McDermott.

According to state law, single-event permits are not to be used to skirt the need for a license, but used by a civic or community groups for a common good.

The liquor commission refused to grant the single-event permits and Chairman David Gladwell voiced his displeasure about the situation.

"Because of the history of this applicant," he said, "the board will not look favorably at future requests."

kathys@sltrib.com