Pop-up liquor store aimed at NBA All-Star weekend visitors

DABS commission had no new bar licenses to hand out in January.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City will house a pop-up liquor store, Feb. 16-18, during the NBA All-Star Game weekend. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services' commission approved the pop-up at its monthly meeting on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.

The state of Utah will open a new liquor store within the Salt Palace Convention Center — for three days only during the NBA All-Star Game weekend.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services’ commission Thursday unanimously approved the pop-up liquor store, which will operate Feb. 16 to 18, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., by the Salt Palace’s east entrance — the big cylinder at 100 South and West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City.

Tiffany Clason, executive director of DABS, told the commissioners at their monthly meeting that it is the first time DABS has operated a temporary liquor store of this type.

DABS staff, Clason said, saw the need for a pop-up liquor store because of the many people visiting Salt Lake City for the NBA All-Star Game, set for Sunday, Feb. 19, at Vivint Arena.

In particular, Clason said, DABS is concerned about the added congestion of foot traffic and vehicles around the current downtown liquor store, at 400 South and 200 West.

The pop-up, Clason said, “really offers a great alternative location for visitors to safely purchase items from this temporary state liquor store that’s walking distance to many of the activities taking place,” as well as hotels.

The store will stock national brands, Clason said, and will “showcase local brewers, local distillers, local ciders and winemakers.”

The pop-up store will be a cashless operation, Clason said, so only credit cards and other electronic payment methods will be accepted.

The remainder of Thursday’s DABS commission meeting was less exciting, because the board had no new bar licenses to hand out in January. There should be one available, based on population increases, at its meeting on Feb. 23.

The continuous shortage of bar licenses is something the Utah Legislature should address now, said Tim Ryan, co-owner of Bout Time Pub & Grub in Bluffdale, who has been waiting months for his bar license application to be approved.

The Legislature is expected to consider its annual omnibus alcohol bill sometime this session — but Ryan said lawmakers should separate the license shortage from other alcohol policies.

Because of other liquor-related issues, Ryan said, “the bills are stalling and not getting through. … Right now, we need licenses.”