Duces Wild received the state’s only available bar license on Tuesday — edging out nine other businesses for the hard-to-get permit and ending a yearslong drama for the South Salt Lake strip club.
Duces Wild, 2750 S. 300 West, lost its bar license more than a year ago in a legal dispute with the city.
After the issue wound its way through the courts, the owner had to reapply for a bar license with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which currently is experiencing a shortage of bar permits.
While waiting for the license, Duces Wild has been able to operate as a beer-only tavern.
On Tuesday, the state liquor commission said of the applicants that are open or ready to do so, Duces Wild was the most deserving.
“Remaining a tavern, would put it at a disadvantage when competing against other businesses in the area," said commissioner Thomas Jacobson. “It is important from a business standpoint to be able to compete."
In addition, Jacobsen said, several other applicants already own existing bars.
Utah is currently experiencing a shortage of bar licenses, which are doled out based on population. State law allows one bar for every 10,200 people. The next bar permit is not expected to become available until December.
A license could become available before then — if another bar shuts down and relinquishes its license. Businesses can also buy bar licenses from other owners. Because the permits are in short supply, they have sold for $25,000 and up in recent months.
South Salt Lake revoked Duces Wild’s business license — and subsequently its state bar permit — in 2019, saying owner Rydell Mitchell had violated provision related to a conviction for attempted witness tampering.
City officials said at the time, that the law prevented someone guilty of a “crime involving moral turpitude" from having a business license.
Mitchell went to court seeking to reverse the city’s decision, saying it was “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful."
The witness tampering case against Mitchell grew out of his involvement in a 2015 hit-and-run car crash. A woman with Mitchell, who was her “boyfriend/boss” at the time, called 911 to report the crash and told authorities he’d been driving at the time, according to court documents.
She said Mitchell later pressured her to lie about what she saw, fail to appear in court and give a false name if someone tried to serve her with a subpoena.
The woman decided to take the stand at Mitchell’s trial, and he fired her within hours of his conviction, court papers state.