Utah gets more bar licenses, thanks to new census data

The state’s booming population means an increase in the number of bars.

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Utah business owners on the waitlist for one of the state’s hard-to-get bar licenses received some help from an unexpected federal source this week — the U.S. Census Bureau.

The release of the federal agency’s 2020 population figures, gave state analysts a chance to recalculate the number of permits that can be issued by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Under state law, Utah can have one bar for every 10,200 residents.

With the population now at 3.2 million, Utah can have 318 bars — four more than what had previously been available, DABC officials said Tuesday.

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That was welcome news to the 10 business owners vying for what they thought was just one permit available in August.

During its monthly meeting, the state liquor board issued three of the five available permits to The Ivy, in Salt Lake City; Spiritual in St. George; and ’Bout Time Pub and Grub in Vineyard.

The commission held on to the two remaining bar licenses — since the other applicants are still in different phases of construction and not ready to open.

DABC officials said they expect two more population-based bar permits to become available before the end of 2021 — one each in September and December.

Seven bar owners have applied for those coveted permits including:

• Casot, which is expected to open in the 15th East and 15th South neighborhood of Salt Lake City in October.

• Garage Grill in Herriman, which as a projected December opening date.

The five other applicants all have tentative opening dates in 2022 including:

• Edison House, Salt Lake City;

• Fife Brewing, Salt Lake City;

• The Green Room, Salt Lake City;

• ‘Bout Time Pub and Grub, Bluffdale;

• And The Spoke, Moab.

Business owners who want a bar license must apply with the DABC and then wait — sometimes for several months or more — until one becomes available through an increase in population or another bar closure.

Businesses can also buy bar licenses from other owners. But they can be costly, selling for $30,000 and up in recent months.