SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – A bill passed at the Utah Legislature to allow the restaurant barrier known as the “Zion Curtain” to no longer be a requirement. Several changes made to the bill will force restaurants to make other abominations.
HB 442 started the legislative session as a way to bring the Zion Curtain, allow more money for alcohol education, and streamlining the alcohol licensing process.
During the process several changes were made including one to require buffer zones if a barrier was taken out. Under current law, drinks have to be prepared behind a barrier out of sight.
The bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Brad Wilson, said even with the changes he’s happy the bill got through.
“We included a lot of previsions that will help reduce under age drinking and over consumption. I think at the same time we struck the right balance with the hospitality industry to make sure they are able to operate the way they would like to.”
Several form the restaurant industry Michele Corigliano is the Executive Director Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association and praised Rep. Wilson’s efforts. She calls the Zion Curtain unnecessary, and claims it gives a bad perception of Utah to those from out of state.
“Step by step we’re getting better legislation that will help restaurants,” said Corigliano. “The Zion Curtain was pretty bad.”
Governor Garry Herbert’s office said Wednesday night the Governor plans to sign the bill.
Under the new law a restaurant which doesn’t have the barrier can’t allow minors to sit within 10 feet of where drinks are being prepared. A third option would allow for a “Washington Wall” which is short barrier between a restaurant and bar. That would only have to be five feet away.
Several states, including Washington, have those types of buffer zones.
One problem some restaurants are dealing with is the streamlining of liquor licenses. They will have to choose a bar or restaurant license. That could hurt businesses like Squatter Brewery in Salt Lake City which has a Dining Club License.
Salt Lake Brewing Company CEO Doug Hofeling said it could be hard to adjust.
“They are the best licenses we’ve ever had,” said Hofeling. “So losing those which means we have to alter our hours of operation, and our percentage of sales from alcohol to food from 60-40 to 70-30.”
Hofeling said that can be difficult to make a ten percent swing for one sales item to the next. Although he did feel some of the changes were unessesary.
“The Zion Curtain coming down is a huge positive for the state and the community and the restaurant industry, but they did exact their pound of flesh,” said Hofeling. “At least we had a seat at the table to negotiate the best way to go about that.”
Hofeling said the good news is they will have until 2022 to decide which license to get, and possible push for changes as needed. Resturants can start taking down their Zion Curtains starting in July.