Guest editorial: DABC should reject Kimball Junction Smith’s request to serve beer on tap
Oct. 29 — The Park Record reports that’s the likely meeting date when state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control commissioners will vote on our local Smith’s store’s application for a tavern license.
Smith’s officials floated this (absurd) request to commissioners at a public meeting held Oct. 1. They are proposing having beer available to shoppers from 10 a.m., yes before noon, until 11 p.m., yes, when many of us are in bed and only a few stragglers are buying groceries. Unlike the pub in Whole Foods where customers can buy beer, wine and food, in a space that’s big enough to relax in, Smith’s would sell beer only, no food, in a tavern area in the front corner of the store. They believe customers will be happy to sit and have one of 16 (low-alcohol) Utah beers during their trip to the grocery store. (How can there be 16 Utah beers?) Steve Sorensen, the vice president of real estate for the Smith’s chain, argues, “It’s nice to have Utah craft beers on tap and (a place) where they can fill their growlers and things of that nature.” I say, that would be at a bar, a restaurant, an event or at home. And, where did he come up with the word “growler” and what in the world is it? I must not be a serious beer drinker, although I drink beer, wine, gin and tonics, “and things of that nature” in places other than a grocery store.
Anyone who shops at Smith’s, located at very busy Kimball Junction, knows this is a store with a huge selection of food, wonderful produce, seafood and meat departments and great prices. It attracts a crowd seven day a week. It’s a store frequented by parents and their kids, all of whom are likely to run into friends with whom to chat. As for visiting shoppers, look up and down the aisles and it’s easy to spot them by the look of confusion and even frenzy on their faces. I’m sure instead of having to hunt for food in the aisles of an unfamiliar store, they’d prefer to get outside and enjoy their awesome Park City vacation. ASAP. I believe the last thing on all shoppers’ minds is to sit and have a beer in the store. I would freak out if I saw a customer who has snuck out of the tavern drinking a beer as they shopped, especially before noon. As it is now, I look at Smith’s shoppers going about their business of buying food and figure, like me, most want to get in and out of there. ASAP. Generally, we prefer Park City outdoors.
This is Utah for God’s sake. Serving folks beer in a grocery store located at the gateway to a resort town will get visitors’ hopes up that Utah’s unique and unreasonably strict liquor laws they’ve heard about have been declared illegal. Sorry. Seeing is believing. And when they see a beer-only “tavern” adjacent to the deli department, semi-hidden behind a 4-foot wall built so kids can’t look inside (unless they’re over 4 feet tall?), they’ll figure Utah’s unique and unreasonably strict liquor laws are still something they’ll have to deal with.
We have a few weeks to make noise. DABC commissioners are looking forward to staff recommendations. Their minds are not set. If you oppose them issuing Smith’s a tavern license, please let them know at https://abc.utah.gov/about/contact.html. Also, call Smith’s corporate office in Salt Lake at 1-800-444-8081 and voice your opposition.
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