Kimball Junction Smith’s wants to sell beer on draft, but DABC vote postponed due to request’s novelty
Weary travelers looking for a quick pick-me-up before the crush of grocery shopping for a week’s vacation might have a new option this winter in Kimball Junction.
Smith’s Food and Drug is requesting a tavern license, which would allow it to sell beer in a closed-off area at the front of the store near Starbucks.
The request went before the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control commission on Tuesday, but the body postponed a vote on the application, likely until its Oct. 29 meeting.
Plans call for 16 taps and seating for 25 people in a tavern surrounded by a 4-foot wall. The beer would be at or below 4 percent alcohol by volume. While it’s unclear whether the tavern would sell canned beverages, those would have to be below that alcohol-content threshold, as well.
Steve Sorensen, the vice president of real estate for Smith’s Food and Drug, told commissioners Tuesday the grocery chain has similar arrangements in two other stores — one in northwest Las Vegas and the other in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He said the tavern would be well-suited to the Park City market.
“There are a lot of people that fly in and they stay in Park City in the condominiums, they stop at our store to buy groceries on their way into town,” he said. “It’s nice to have Utah craft beers available on tap and (a place) where they can fill their growlers and things of that nature.”
He added the Los Alamos store has operated for about five years without an issue, while the Las Vegas store has been open for about a year.
Mike Bishop, who staffs the commission as a licensing and compliance specialist, said a tavern in a grocery store would be something new for the state.
“Like Magellan — this is uncharted waters,” Bishop told the commission.
A spokesperson for the DABC said he believes Smith’s request is the first such application in the state.
The nearby Whole Foods in Kimball Junction has an in-house pub-style restaurant called the Silver Mine Tap Room that serves beer and wine and pub food, like burgers, salads and paninis. Alcohol is only available if a patron orders food, a manager said.
There would be no requirement for food at the tavern in Smith’s, DABC director of communications Terry Wood said in an interview.
Commissioners’ concerns included preventing minors from accessing the tavern, ensuring alcohol is not sold to minors, overserving patrons and preventing someone from purchasing a growler and then walking through the store with it.
Thomas Jacobson, a commissioner who said he shopped at the store, said people tend to mill around the proposed area for the site, especially on winter mornings as they stop in for hot chocolate from the Starbucks inside the store.
Sorensen told the commission the 4-foot solid wall would likely prevent minors from accessing the tavern, but noted the concern and said a reconfiguration might be possible to prevent overcrowding.
Wood said in an interview the concern wasn’t that a minor would see someone drinking a beer, but rather that someone could enter the tavern unseen if a group of people congregated by the entrance.
Commissioners did not appear to strongly oppose the measure, but postponed the vote to give staff more time to work through the details because of the novelty of the application.
Smith’s does not yet have a building permit for the renovation, its representative said at the meeting. The details about what the tavern would look like and other specifics are unclear as the commission would not release the application to The Park Record, saying it contained proprietary business information, though it was presented at a public meeting.
In response to requests for comment, Smith’s provided a brief statement from Sorensen saying the tavern would be well-suited to the Park City market.
The tavern would be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., though those hours are tentative. Patrons would use the same entrance as grocery store customers, and Sorensen told the commission the store is not contemplating using the outside space as a patio.
Commissioners indicated they were looking forward to the staff recommendation and would likely vote on the application Oct. 29.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. The numbers in December show the Park City economy still was roaring during the first full month of the ski season.