Utah liquor commission may tighten rules on booze education
Alcohol • Until new rules are adopted, all future education permits are on hold.
Published: January 28, 2014 03:58PM
Updated: January 28, 2014 09:29PM
Keith Johnson | Tribune file photo Hillary Maxwell (right) and her daughter Makaela paint wine bottles at Paint Mixer in Salt Lake City, November 7, 2013. Paint Mixer gives participants in certain classes the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine or beer under a special education liquor permit offered through the state.

For several years, culinary schools, restaurants and even grocery stores in Utah have been able to offer alcohol classes and tastings, thanks to an educational liquor permit offered through the state.

But in recent months, as more non-food-industry businesses — such as painting studios — have requested the educational liquor permits, it has raised red flags for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC).

On Tuesday, the state liquor commission said a new set a rules to help the state govern these educational permit holders was in order. Some of the issues that will likely be addressed in the rules include:

• Quantity and portion size of drinks.

• Server training.

• Educational qualifications or certification.

• Hours of operation.

• Preventing minor consumption.

• Proximity to churches and schools.

• Liability insurance.

All that information will help staff and the liquor commission “decide if something is truly educational,” Nina McDermott, director of compliance, licensing enforcement, told the board during its monthly meeting in Salt Lake City.

Until the rules are adopted, probably in a month or two, all future education permits are on hold.

“We won’t consider any new applicants until we adopt the new rules,” said Board Chairman David Gladwell.

The topic of educational permits also came up last week at the UDABC’s Advisory Board meeting, made of up restaurant and bar owners. During the meeting, Chairman Fred Boutwell, with Gastronomy, said businesses with educational permits should be required to follow the same alcohol laws as restaurants and bars, which face stiff fines for mistakes.

We want to make sure, he said, they’re not using the educational permits “in lieu of a retail license.”

Owners of the painting and wine studios that seemed to prompt the discussion welcome more specific written rules — to a point.

“More guidance would be nice, but if they make it too restrictive, it won’t be helpful,” said Candice Vasher, co-owner of Painting with a Twist, a painting studio that also offers wine education during some classes. Vasher said she opened the Murray painting studio about three years ago, but since obtaining an educational liquor permit in 2013, the business has taken off.

“Being able to sell wine,” she said, “is huge.”