Utah’s liquor bosses hand out six bar licenses, but warn shortage still looms

Legislature approved 15 extra bar licenses, which one commissioner calls “a Band-Aid.”

Utah’s liquor authorities have handed out six new bar licenses — the first in a set of new licenses approved by the Utah Legislature.

The Legislature in its last session approved an extra 15 full bar licenses, after complaints from businesses that Utah didn’t have enough licenses to go around under the state’s population quota.

Before approving bar licenses to applicants Wednesday, Juliette Tennert, chair of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services’ commission, noted that based on the state’s projected population growth, commissioners will have only seven new bar licenses to hand out over the next 13 months.

The Legislature’s addition of 15 licenses, Tennert said, will help alleviate the shortage, “but it’s basically a Band-Aid.”

Tennert did note that the Legislature also approved money for a study of how the population quota is working.

The six businesses that had their bar applications approved are:

Kennedy’s Cabaret, 412 W. 600 North, Salt Lake City.

La Caille at Quail Run, 9565 S. Wasatch Blvd., Sandy.

Level Crossing Brewing Co., in the new Post District development, at 550 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City.

Offset Bier, 1755 Bonanza Drive, Park City.

• Pete’s Place Bar & Grill, 2040 S. 1900 West, Ogden.

Second Summit Hard Cider, 4010 S. Main, Millcreek. The cidery has pickleball courts as part of its premises.

The only one of the six businesses that commissioners had questions about was Kennedy’s Cabaret. When asked what a cabaret is, owner Troy Cayias explained that “it is a place where you can sit, eat and be entertained.”

Kennedy’s Cabaret, he said, is “going to be an art bar. We want magicians or musicians. Also, we like photographers [and] painters to share ideas and display their artwork and their talents.”

Cayias and the cabaret’s attorney, Steve Spencer, made it clear that the entertainment would not be sexual in nature. Alcohol is prohibited at sexually oriented businesses, such as strip clubs that feature full nudity.

After the commission approved the six new bar licenses, Tennert said the board would not be approving the nine applicants that were not ready to open — even though the licenses were available.

Seven of the nine have opening dates in late June or early July. Tennert said the board will maintain its policy of considering them only when they are ready to go, with a business license either in hand or about to be granted once the business had its liquor license. Those applicants will likely try again at June’s DABS meeting.

The commission had 18 full bar licenses available Wednesday — 15 from the Legislature’s addition, two based on recent population growth, and one that was forfeited by an existing business.

The business that forfeited its license was Echo & Karma, a pair of conjoined nightclubs at 134 W. Pierpont Ave., Salt Lake City. The bar’s parent company, Button Up Holdings, is in the midst of an ownership dispute between two of its partners, said attorney Mark Shurtleff, who represents one of the partners.

Shurtleff, a former attorney general of Utah, said the dispute led to his client losing the lease for the space on Pierpont. Shurtleff asked the commission to suspend Echo’s bar license for 30 days, rather than remove it completely, while he works to sort out the ownership tangle.

The commission turned down that request, saying it was beyond their authority. Since Button Up currently has no valid lease, said Commissioner Tara Thue, it can’t hold a bar license.

“We don’t have a choice here, except to deem the license as forfeited,” Thue said. “We don’t have any leeway to make an exception.”

The commission also approved eight new restaurant licenses. The applicants that received them are:

• Fancy Burger, 37 W. University Parkway, Orem.

Pier 8, 1240 S. State St., Orem.

AutoCamp Zion, 1322 UT-9, Virgin.

Park City Desserts & Coffee, in the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main St., Park City.

Puerto Vallarta Jalisco, 1575 W. 200 North, Cedar City.

Via 313 Pizzeria, at Fashion Place, 6163 S. State St., Murray.

Betty’s Cafe, 1320 S. Daniels Road, Heber City.

• Matchstick Bar & Grill, 2000 W. 3500 South, West Valley City.