New Utah liquor law has businesses put up signs

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tuesday was the deadline for some Utah business to put their signs up, declaring: This premise is licensed as a BAR not as a restaurant.

"You walk up and there's a sign that says 'hey we're a bar, not a restaurant.' So the rational person would say 'oh, they don't have food,'” said David Morris, owner of Piper Down and several other bars in the Salt Lake Valley.

Morris has concerns the signs could be misunderstood by people visiting Utah. He said he already struggles to attract a lunch crowd with the perception of being bar, though 40% of his sales come from food. Worse yet, his concern for restaurants.

"To me, to the rational person, I'm, like, 'it's a restaurant, not a bar, so don't try to get any beer here, don't try to order wine or a drink or whatever'….There's some good profit margin in alcohol and a lot of restaurants just barely get by and those alcohol sales just push them over the top a little bit,” said Morris.

A little bit can make a big difference. Justin wood is the co-owner of Sala Thai Kitchen in the downtown area of Salt Lake City. He says, roughly ten percent of their sales are alcohol but the sliver of their sales makes a critical difference.

"It's a big deal for us to be able to sell that cause, just selling food not sure we could make it happen,” said Wood.

He put up his sign, seeking to meet all the legally required language but adding what he called his own free speech commentary.

"We're a restaurant, we're not a bar. Obviously, our legislators don't think you're bright enough to understand the difference,” said Wood while reading part of his sign.

The requirement to post the signs was part of a new liquor legislation enacted this year. Another part of the legislation takes down the Zion Curtain at some Utah businesses.