Two Utah bars and three SLC restaurants get their liquor licenses

An attorney calls out DABS commissioners for holding licenses until businesses are ‘ready to operate.’

(Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Palace, at 917 S. State St. in Salt Lake City, was awarded a full bar license by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services' board of commissioners on Thursday, August 31, 2023.

Two more Utah bars — one in Salt Lake City and one in Tooele — have received their coveted liquor licenses, and three Salt Lake City restaurants also got licenses to serve alcohol with meals.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services’ commission handed out those licenses in their monthly meeting Thursday in Taylorsville, zipping through their agenda in 40 minutes.

“Have we set a new record for a DABS commission meeting?” commission chair Tara Thue asked before adjourning the meeting. “That wasn’t my intent, but I’ll take it.”

One of the two businesses that had bar license applications approved — The Palace, at 917 S. State St., Salt Lake City — surrendered its existing on-premises license to upgrade to its new license.

The other — the 14th Utah location for the sports-bar chain Bout Time! Pub & Grub, at 615 N. Main St., Tooele — completed its business license and inspections on Wednesday afternoon, just under the wire for Thursday’s meeting, DABS staffer Rob Hansen told the commission.

The three restaurants that got their licenses approved are:

H Bar, in the Hyatt House hotel at 140 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City.

Publik Kitchen, at 931 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City.

Mint Tapas and Sushi, 2121 S. McClelland St., Salt Lake City. (It’s the fourth location for Mint, which has restaurants in Sandy, Holladay and Cottonwood Heights.)

Commissioners only approved licenses for restaurants that are listed as “ready to operate,” following a policy set in the last couple of years because of a scarcity of licenses, the number of which are determined by a population quota set by the Utah Legislature.

After Thursday’s license approvals, DABS staff said there are nine full bar licenses and 27 restaurant licenses available — out of the hundreds issued statewide. That’s after the Legislature approved a one-time addition of licenses beyond the population quota, a short-term fix that commissioner Juliette Tennert once described as “a Band-Aid” to the shortage problem.

The commission’s policy limiting license approvals to “ready to operate” businesses drew some criticism from an attorney who represents some applicants.

Attorney Tanner Strickland Lenart, stepping up during the meeting’s public comment period, told commissioners that the law allows the board to approve licenses up to 18 months before a business is ready to open.

A restaurant may be ready to open within a week or two of a commission meeting, but “we’re making them wait for a whole month,” Lenart said. “The intent of the Legislature is to let businesses that are not quite ready to go have these.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Cade Meier, DABS’ deputy director, told the board that an event is approaching that liquor connoisseurs eagerly await: The annual Rare High-Demand Products drawing, when people can sign up for a chance to purchase rare spirits. Registration for the drawing begins Sept. 12 at midnight and closes on Sept. 22 at 11:59 p.m., at the DABS website, abs.utah.gov.

The price range for this year’s rare spirits runs from $99.99 for several brands of rye and bourbon up to $399.99 for a 750ml bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon — of which only five bottles will be available.