The outdoor beer garden adjacent to Salt Lake City’s Mountain West Hard Cider — which for months operated in limbo because it didn’t qualify for a permanent liquor license from the state — has officially become a bar.
It took owners Jeff and Jennifer Carleton months of red tape and thousands of dollars in remodeling to get approval from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for its new 21-and-older cider house and bar, called The Garten.
“But we’re happy about the outcome,” Jeff Carleton explained. “We’ve struggled with how to best use the space.”
The new bar — located inside the production facility at 417 N. 400 West in the transforming Marmalade neighborhood — will hold a grand opening May 24-27 with live music, food and games.
Last year, when designing Mountain West Hard Cider’s new patio, the Carletons tried to re-create an outdoor venue reminiscent of an Old World German beer garden.
They brought in long, communal tables and a large awning for shade. They landscaped with gravel walkways, wood planter boxes and hanging flower baskets, and invited a rotating list of food trucks to park on-site and serve food.
But the 8,000-square-foot patio couldn’t get a permanent liquor license. The Garten didn’t qualify for a restaurant liquor license, because it doesn’t have an on-site kitchen; and the Utah attorney general’s office said it couldn’t be licensed as a reception center either.
A bar license was an option, but the Carletons were hesitant because they wanted patrons to be able to bring their minor children for food and live music.
The owners found a temporary solution by getting single-event permits from the DABC, which allowed the venue to sell beer, wine and spirits for up to three days at a time. But groups and businesses are allowed only 12 special-event permits a year, under state law. That limited when The Garten could be open and was confusing for customers.
After months of discussion with the DABC, the Careltons decided to expand the indoor tasting room at Mountain West Hard Cider’s production facility and turn it into a bar.
The Garten area is now an “extension of the premises,” Jeff Carelton said, which means bar guests can enjoy hard cider, craft beer, wine and distilled spirits in the outdoor venue during regular business hours. It’s open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Carletons still hope to accommodate families at least a few times a year. They plan to apply for single-event permits from the DABC. On those occasions, The Garten will be blocked off into a separate space — and not be part of the bar — so minors will be allowed on the premises.
“It will be a lot of rules to figure out,” Carleton said. “But it’s a good compromise, given Utah’s liquor laws.”