The state agency that oversees liquor sales in Utah has officially changed its name — one that its leaders say reflects its “service-focused” mission.
As of Wednesday, what used to be called the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is now called the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Services, after a change passed by the Utah Legislature this winter.
The name change signifies a change in direction for the agency, with a greater emphasis on serving businesses and the public, said Tiffany Clason, the executive director of DABS, at a media event Wednesday at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City.
That public is not limited to those who sell or consume alcohol, Clason said.
“A question I often get is how the DABC — now DABS — serves people who don’t drink alcohol,” Clason said. “We serve in the hundreds of millions of dollars that we help generate for the state and local governments, funding services and programs that every single one of use. Things like roads and transportation, police, public health, education, and the school lunch program.”
The department, she said, also serves Utah’s food and beverage industry, by providing “information and tools that they need to open and operate legally and safely. … We also support tourism in our work with restaurants and bars, community events and Utah entrepreneurs, including brewers, distillers [and] winemakers.”
Recent moves toward service, Clason said, include an overhaul of DABS’s IT system, which will make it possible for bars and restaurants to apply for licenses and pay fees online, and for consumers to order alcohol online through a Click ‘n’ Collect program and pick it up at a liquor store.
Michele Corigliano, executive director of Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, said at The Gateway event that the members of her organization have seen a vast improvement in the agency.
“In the last couple of years, we have seen such a major change at the DABC,” Corigliano said. “We have seen efficiencies that we’ve never seen before. … We have seen such a big difference in the recent past, it’s just been incredible. And it hasn’t just been talk.”
Often, Corigliano said, a name change is “just a PR stunt. That’s not the case here. We have been solicited for feedback from our members multiple times over the past year and a half, and our suggestions and our desires and our needs have been met with immediate response, which we’ve never seen before.”
Utah Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, sponsored the bill to change the agency’s name, said the state must regularly adapt its alcohol policies.
“Things are going to have to change, just because it’s a changing industry,” Stevenson said. “We have people of more diverse nature that are moving into the state of Utah, and we need to accommodate them. And we have to accommodate through our laws, and sometimes that’s difficult during those 45 days that we work [in the regular legislative session]. But as we move through that process, if we don’t get it right this year, we’ll have a chance to get it right next year.”
Clason said it was important to tout the agency’s name change at The Gateway — in proximity to several restaurants and bars.
“It would have been really easy to just do this from our office today,” Clason said, “Or do a post really quick on social media. But again, it’s been really good to get together as a team, with all of our partners in the Legislature, in industry, prevention and so many of our other partners here.”