Utah restaurant and bar owners have decided to drop their happy hour lawsuit against the state, but they may walk away even more confused than when they started. The Utah Hospitality Association had filed a lawsuit saying Utah’s law prohibiting establishments from offering a “happy hour,” violated the Sherman Act, which protects against anticompetitive conduct.
The state claims bars and restaurants have been able to change their prices the whole time. But, it’s still not happy hour, and menus are somehow involved. To that, green pig owner, Bridget Gordon asks, what’s the exact definition of a menu?
"I don't get that, I just really don't. Can my special board be a menu? I change it every day I do fresh print on it every morning," Gordon said.
This is the latest “change” when it comes to the happy hour battle. But it's not really a change. According to the state, the restaurants were just interpreting the law wrong the entire time. So the restaurants dropped the suit.
"it was sad to drop the lawsuit but we'd been battling it for awhile and it just seemed like we were spinning our wheels, we weren't going anywhere on that," Gordon said.
So here's the deal, restaurants can change prices each day with a whole new menu, but they can't call it a discount or a special. And the restaurant can’t point out that the drink price is any different than normal. Confused yet? Patrons we spoke with were.
"It’s so open for interpretation that every in keeper in the state has his own interpretation of what's going on," said mike prater.
Menus? Calling the prices "features" instead of "specials?" Green Pig customer, Michael Ferro asks do these details really matter?
"I think that people get really worked up over little things that really don't make a big difference," Ferro said.
He said it doesn't matter what you call it, or where it's printed, at the end of his day he just wants to drink a cold beer with friends.
"people are going to drink or they're going to go out and have a beer after work they're going to do it anyway, whether it's a happy hour or not," Ferro said.
These restaurants have been battling this law since it was passed in 2011, and they have no plan on stopping. The Utah hospitality association said they may sue the state for the right to advertise their drinks as specials. They said not being able to, violates their right to free speech.