The new Eccles Theater has to install a ‘Zion Ceiling’ to comply with Utah liquor laws

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The new Eccles Theater is having to install something never seen before to comply with Utah liquor laws: a "Zion Ceiling."

The downtown theater's grand lobby spans several stories. But the sweeping views have put it in conflict with state alcohol laws, because patrons can look down to the lobby floor and see drinks being made.

The Eccles Theater's lobby bistro has not yet been granted a restaurant liquor license by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission allowing it to serve wine and beer because it doesn't have a separate preparation area, commonly referred to as "Zion Curtains." Those prevent patrons from seeing alcoholic drinks being made in restaurants.

A view of the separate preparation area (bottom right) inside the Eccles Theater that needs to have a "Zion Ceiling" installed to comply with Utah liquor laws. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

A view of the separate preparation area (bottom right) inside the Eccles Theater that needs to have a "Zion Ceiling" installed to comply with Utah liquor laws. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"It is still visible from certain parts of the Eccles Theater for people to see the mixing of drinks and the bottles of alcohol," said Terry Wood, a spokesman for the DABC. "It's not our decision there. We wish they had been able to comply. We have been working with them for about a year, but this is state law and it's out of our hands."

To comply with state law and obtain the license, Salt Lake County (which operates the theater) will install a "Zion Ceiling," if you will. Philip Jordan, the division director for Salt Lake County's Center for the Arts told FOX 13 they plan to cover the small separate preparation area as well as adding a door to prohibit views from another vantage point.

"From the very beginning, we knew there were going to be some concerns about that," he said. "But at the end of the day, we're very confident we'll be within the law and we'll be able to provide a great experience for our guests."

The lobby of the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

The lobby of the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

The changes will be made in time for the theater's grand opening next month.

"Zion Curtains" have long been a source of consternation on Utah's Capitol Hill. Some members of the state legislature want to get rid of them, claiming they make Utah look "weird." Others insist they protect families and children. Wood said the DABC is mandated by state law to enforce the rules.