Lawmaker hopes to free up state liquor licenses

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Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, hopes to allow more businesses access to liquor licenses in the state next year.

The number of liquor licenses in Utah has traditionally been based upon the population. And as the population grows in the state, the number of available liquor licenses is adjusted from time to time. But the recent increase in demand for alcohol is what prompted Valentine’s efforts to propose a new piece of legislation.

Come January, Valentine will introduce a bill to the Utah Legislature that would, if passed, allow restaurant chains to operate under one single liquor license. By doing this, he says, it would leave the remaining licenses for individual bars and pubs to pick up.

The owner of the Holladay sports bar "Bout Time" says, although they like to see progress in freeing up liquor laws in the state, this particular piece of legislation is not ideal for them.

The owner, Tim Ryan, is looking for a club license rather than a restaurant license, which is more likely to be freed up if the new legislation is approved.

"This location has been on the waiting on a year-round club liquor license [for] almost two years since December 2010," said Ryan. "In the meantime, we have worked under a patchwork of four different liquor licenses, which has been very frustrating and challenging in service to our guests, training for our employees."

Specific details in the proposed legislation has not been made public.