Restaurants: meeting with governor ‘positive’ |

Restaurants: meeting with governor ‘positive’

New laws about bars still a concern

Hans Fuegi, an officer in the Utah Restaurant Association and owner of the Grub Steak Restaurant in Park City, attended the special meeting with Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. on Thursday night at the Governor’s Mansion.

He said the meeting was very positive and Huntsman vowed to continue working on issues concerning restaurant owners.

"The governor is aware of the fact that it was not perfect legislation for restaurants. He made a commitment to keep working on it," he said.

The meeting was mostly a review of major concerns, and discussed or decided "nothing concrete." It was more of a feedback session, he said.

While the governor wants to do more to change liquor laws, he made it clear to association members that it was largely out of his control and was under the purview of the Legislature.

The largest concern of restaurant owners is the requirement for new establishments to hide the service and storage of liquor from the customer’s view. Changing private club membership laws was the "most important," but association members would like to see further reforms in next year’s legislative session, he said.

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Another major concern is that the grandfathering in of existing bar structures begins May 12. Many restaurant owners would like to renovate before then, he said. For example, if a restaurant never had seating at a bar because it was following "Zion Curtain" regulations that prevented service of alcohol over a bar, the owners would like to install seating before May 12.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control made clear that that was not the intent of the legislation, but that it would consider cases individually if requested.

The Utah Restaurant Association will also send a recap of the meeting and its understanding of the new legislation (including the May 12 deadline) to members soon, he said.

— Andrew Kirk