Utah liquor board approves licenses for two restaurants and a cowboy boots store

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services also denied a license for a restaurant that wasn’t quite ready to open.

(Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune) Matteo Ristorante Italiano, at 439 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, was issued a restaurant liquor license on Sept. 28, 2023.

Utah’s liquor commission approved restaurant licenses Thursday for a new Italian restaurant near Liberty Park and a Japanese restaurant in Lehi, as well as a bar license for a luxury western wear store in Park City.

After experiencing some technical difficulties, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services commission also denied a restaurant liquor license to one establishment, and awarded a license to an event center in Utah County — as well as gave a temporary license to another event center that lost out on full licensure.

1 full bar license awarded

Kemo Sabe • Out of nine establishments applying for licenses on Thursday, only Kemo Sabe met DABS’ requirements that a business be entirely ready to operate before receiving a license, so it was approved.

Kemo Sabe isn’t exactly a bar, however. It’s a retail store selling high-end cowboy boots, cowboy hats, jewelry, accessories and more. The part that involves liquor is an in-store speakeasy where, starting Sunday, shoppers can go and have a cocktail — as long as all alcohol stays in the bar space, said Kelcey Proctor, one of Kemo Sabe’s vice presidents.

That part is a Utah-only rule, which is unlike Kemo Sabe’s other locations in Aspen and Vail, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Las Vegas, where shoppers can drink while they walk freely around the store, Proctor said.

But inside the speakeasy, there is a smaller section of items you can shop from, and you can also watch your custom belt buckle or cowboy hat being made while you sip.

Kemo Sabe is located at 268 Main St., Suite 1A, in Park City. For more information, visit KemoSabe.com.

With the approval for Kemo Sabe, according to DABS, there are 10 full bar licenses currently available.

2 restaurant liquor licenses awarded

Matteo • This new Italian restaurant in Salt Lake City is located on 900 South near Pig & a Jelly Jar, in the space previously occupied by Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen.

According to the restaurant’s website, Matteo Ristorante Italiano is “more than just a place to eat; it’s a celebration of family, tradition, and the joy of sharing exceptional food with loved ones.”

The flavors in the dishes — created by Chef Damiano Carlotto — come from Modena, Italy, the website reads, and “every dish is an ode to the rustic, comforting, and soul-warming cuisine of Italy.”

Matteo is located at 439 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City. For more information, or to reserve a table, visit MatteoSLC.com.

Hamachi • Salt Lake City-based Japanese restaurant Hamachi Sushi Bar had a soft opening for its new Lehi location on Wednesday. The contemporary space is sleek and streamlined, with paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

On the menu are rolls like the Billy Billy, topped with seared washugyu beef, and the Cobra Kai, which is yellowtail, cucumber and cilantro topped with albacore tuna, jalapeño aioli and sweet soy.

“Hamachi was built on the traditional Japanese belief that sushi should be special, and we carry that belief into everything we do,” the restaurant’s website reads.

Hamachi Sushi Bar is located at 3370 Digital Drive, Suite 160, in Lehi, as well as at 488 E. 100 South in Salt Lake City. For more information, follow Hamachi on Instagram @hamachiutah.

1 restaurant liquor license denied

If El Cholo received its Utah restaurant liquor license on Thursday, the California-based Mexican restaurant chain was tentatively planning on opening its first location in the state in the beginning of October, according to its application, listed with DABS.

But during Thursday’s DABS meeting, that didn’t happen. Ron Salisbury, the owner of the El Cholo chain, and a representative for the business explained to the commission that they would be ready to operate by Friday, and asked DABS to grant them an exception from their requirement that establishments be 100% ready to operate when they receive a liquor license.

But, holding to its rules, DABS denied El Cholo that exception, with commissioner Juliette Tennert telling them that “we can’t take those chances right now, with the scarcity of liquor licenses.”

The El Cholo at 2166 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, will be the first location the chain has launched outside of southern California. The chain’s flagship restaurant in Los Angeles marked its 100th anniversary this year.

1 event center license given, 1 denied

Two competing event centers had applied to receive liquor licenses on Thursday. The Wild Oak venue in Lindon was awarded the license, while Noir Event Center in Taylorsville missed out due to its violation history.

At a New Year’s Eve event in 2021, the Noir Event Center “allowed consumption after the legal hours,” said DABS staffer Rob Hansen, who added that the matter was settled in March with a fine.

CJ Drisdom, owner of Noir Event Center and the Utah Creative Chamber, addressed the commission, saying, “Yes, a mistake happened. And I’ll take full responsibility for that. However, what’s to come is so much greater if we can get this license.”

Drisdom didn’t walk away entirely empty-handed, though. The commission awarded Noir Event Center a seasonal event license that is good from November to April 30.