Lawmaker wants all Utah restaurants to have ‘Zion Curtains’

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Former Sen. John Valentine says he "made a mistake."

The Orem Republican, known for his conservative stance on liquor laws, said he regrets passing a bill that required only new restaurants to build 7-foot separate preparation areas for alcoholic drinks (nicknamed "Zion Curtains"). Instead, he said he should have required ALL restaurants to have them.

"It is my opinion that the grandfathering should be done away with so all restaurants are treated the same," Valentine told FOX 13.

Valentine, who has left the Senate to become the new chairman of the Utah State Tax Commission, said Thursday it was his hope that the legislature would pass a bill removing the grandfather clause, forcing the restaurants to build them. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control told FOX 13 on Thursday there are 436 restaurants that were grandfathered in under the law and do not have "Zion Curtains."

But other lawmakers have different plans.

"I am thinking about a bill that says, 'Tear down all of those walls,'" said Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City.

Dabakis told FOX 13 that with Valentine no longer being the driving force behind Utah's liquor laws, things may loosen.

"Senator, er, commissioner Valentine is going to have a lot of sway on the tax commission, but I'm not sure he's going to have a lot of say on alcohol anymore," he said.

In past years, attempts to do away with the so-called "Zion Curtains" failed. Members of the Utah House attempted (House Speaker Becky Lockhart famously called them "weird") but measures never got past the Senate.

The "Zion Curtain" came about as part of a compromise that removed private club memberships and sponsorships at bars, but placed more requirements for restaurants that included the separate drink preparation areas, a 70-percent threshold for food sales, and diners stating an intent to order food before getting an alcoholic drink.

"Alcohol policy in Utah balances public safety against hospitality," Valentine said, defending his record on liquor legislation.

Asked if he believed that with his departure from the Senate, lawmakers would undo much of his bills he told FOX 13: "I hope not."

16 comments

  • Gavin Jones

    I don’t disagree with the have to order food requirement, but the Zion Curtain thing is “weird”, I really don’t think it would matter in a state like Utah whether or not It’s there.

  • Angela

    After what happened at Dickey’s I think they should all be torn down! I want my drink made right in front of me, I want to see exactly what they put in my drink!

  • lindsey

    All putting up the Zion curtains is doing is making alcohol more of a taboo for children and teenagers to wonder what we adults are trying to hide from them which is going to make them want to try it even more

    • Bob

      No Lindsey, parents teach their children the dangers associated with alcohol; Broken marriages, fetal alcohol syndrome, and alcoholims just to name three.
      Smart children learn from the sad mistakes made by others.

  • Alek Wiltbank

    Zion Curtains are pointless, plain and simple. Restaurants should not have to hide because you don’t want your child to see liquid being poured into a glass. Utah’s liqueur laws are embarrassing at best. Putting up a curtain or lowing alcohol percentages is not going to make people stop drinking, it’s just useless regulation.

  • bob

    The Zion Curtain is based on the assumption that Mormons cannot see alcohol without drinking it.

    I know a lot of Mormons in the real world, and not one of them minds seeing someone drinking a beer in a restaurant. Not one of them has ever mentioned anything about it. Not one of them has ever tried to shield their children’s eyes from the sight.

    I don’t know where Capitol Hill gets these people, but they do NOT represent the community.

  • Trace

    If you make it seem like it is exciting, it will make children more curious. If it seems like it is nothing, they ignore it. Curiosity killed the cat. It is antiquated and ridiculous. This lawmaker would enact a sheet with a hole for honeymoons next. Go back to the pioneer days where you belong.

  • James

    This is simply an effort to load small businesses with unnecessary costs. It’s a bully move, backed by big money, to keep small businesses from succeeding.

  • Brandon

    Just another move that proves the religion rules the state and the laws! I think federal government should really step in on a lot of laws we have here.

  • bobsanidiot

    Seriously you fool? Gee is there any wonder they made the movie footloose where they did?
    bob the idiot seems to think that alcoholism is just a poor choice instead of the disease it really is.
    I don’t drink but I’m getting sick to death of this cult overan state taking away peoples rights.
    Reality you book of mormon thumping idiot in Orem Utah is a hidden and covered up dirty little cesspool. Get off your soapbox buddy, not only are you no better you are part of the problem.

  • SC

    What (again) is the point of the curtain? Are we trying to hide the fact that alcohol exists? Kids are not stupid and let’s stop treating them like they are!! This whole thing is rediculas.

  • SC

    What about all the Mormons that go to Wendover to gamble?? They see people drinking AND smoking there. Is this only to block the site of alcohol from the kids? What????

  • marna bratsos

    If a parent is going to drink alcohol in a restaurant in front of his child, that same parent will probably be drinking at home and pouring his own drink. That parent must talk to his child about alcohol consumption. People who don’t want their children to see alcohol have alternative restaurants. A restaurant is not in the business to shelter or change people’s attitudes about drinking alcoholic beverages.

  • Mick14513

    I publicly dare ANY anti-liquor politician to honestly answer this question – What is it about LDS politicians who OPPOSE the consumption of demon alcohol…..but LOVE the taxable income and DABC profit to grudgingly build more liquor stores?
    Separation of Church and State – HA!

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