Three SLC businesses get their much-prized bar licenses

The commission also approved restaurant licenses for 10 businesses.

An unexpected windfall of bar licenses from Utah’s liquor board was good news for three Salt Lake City businesses — two of which have been waiting months for the scarce permits.

Fisher Brewing Co., Squatters/Wasatch Taproom and HK Brewing Collective — all in Salt Lake City — received the coveted bar licenses Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services’ commission.

For Fisher co-owner Tim Dwyer, it meant the end of a process that goes back at least since September.

“We are still ready to operate; we are ready to go,” Fisher told commissioners. “We could use it today. We’ve got seven high-point beers that we could pour in-house, and we’d be putting in our first liquor order immediately.”

At past meetings, Dwyer has noted that the Fisher brewpub, at 320 W. 800 South, is adding a special event space for weddings and other occasions — and the beer-only license the brewpub held would not allow revelers to pop a bottle of champagne.

Squatters/Wasatch Taproom, at 1763 S. 300 West — formerly known as West Side Tavern — accepted a seasonal bar license back in November, but that was scheduled to expire at the end of April.

Libby Taylor, the taproom’s general manager, told commissioners “we’ve seen a huge increase in traffic” since getting the seasonal license, with some 11,000 sales of high-point beer and liquor in the past few months.

That boost has been seen in her staff’s tips, Taylor said. Beyond that, she said, the bar license also means “the retention of guests we get to talk to and tell our story about. It’s a focus on Utah products. It’s a focus on safe service.”

Kate Lubing, co-owner and operations director of HK Brewing Collective, also said the business she owns with Hannah Hendrickson is “open and ready to operate.” HK Brewing Collective, at 370 Aspen Ave. in the Ballpark neighborhood, is known for making Han’s Kombucha.

Lubing acknowledged that HK would be able to operate only three days a week at first but would be expanding its hours within a week or so after hiring and training more full-time staffers. HK would also be closed for a week in mid-April, Lubing said, so she and Hendrickson could attend KombuchaKon, a conference in California where they are among the featured speakers.

Commissioners commended Lubing’s honesty about the dates HK would be closed — but that honesty did cost Lubing a couple of votes from the board, though not enough to block HK’s license.

The scarcity of bar licenses will be alleviated soon. The Utah Legislature, in its annual omnibus liquor bill, approved the addition of 15 full bar licenses, in addition to those allowed under the state’s population quota. Those licenses will become available May 3.

The commission also approved restaurant licenses for 10 businesses — some of which were in line for licenses in February but were denied by commissioners concerned about the impending shortage of those licenses. (That shortage also was addressed in the Legislature’s bill, with 33 more restaurant licenses becoming available in May.)

The 10 restaurants getting licenses this month are:

• Gustavo’s Mexican Restaurant, 216 E. Center St., Monticello.

• Helper Beer, 159 N. Main, Helper.

• Horizon View Restaurant, 812 S. Main, Moab.

• KPot Korean BBQ & Hot Pot, 5628 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville.

• The Lodge at Bryce Canyon, in Bryce Canyon National Park.

• Mariscos Ensenada, 850 S. Bluff St., St George.

• Stack 571 Burger & Whiskey Bar, 13311 S. Tree Sparrow Drive, Riverton.

• Tacos El Guero, 145 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City.

• Ulum by Under Canvas, 147 S. Looking Glass Road, Moab.

• Vintage Restaurant Bar & Grill, 268 Spring Drive, Kamas.