SLC restaurant loses liquor license

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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of Salt Lake City's oldest establishments may be without a liquor license for the first time.

The Cinegrill opened in the 1940s and has moved four times. The owner chose its most recent location at 1000 S. Main Street for the large parking lot out front.

The move was months in the making, and cost the restaurant thousands of dollars in construction costs. And now that it's up and running there's just one problem: no liquor license.

"We went from having customers call and ask us if we were open to having customers call and ask if we have our liquor license yet," said Brendan Page, a manager at Cinegrill.

In its earlier incarnations, it was customary for many diners to order a glass of wine with their meals. The Cinegrill specializes in Italian cuisine.

Before moving to the new location, there was a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already meeting in a leased space in the same strip mall.

The owner of the Cinegrill reached out to church leaders while considering his move, and they responded with a welcoming letter, which also asked that the restaurant not serve alcohol on Sundays or advertise alcohol in its windows. Cinegrill provided FOX 13 with a copy of this letter which also states some branch members struggle with addictions, including alcohol.

The Cinegrill says closing on Sunday and not advertising alcohol was already part of their plan, so they were happy to comply with the church's requests.

But when the Cinegrill recently inquired with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control about getting a new liquor license, they were informed that the letter from the church wasn't enough to allow a variance to state law, which states an establishment serving alcohol must be at least 200 feet away from a church.

The DABC also told FOX 13 the LDS Branch, which meets in the leased space next to the Cinegrill meets the legal requirements of a church.

The Cinegrill is still exploring what, if any, legal options they may have to obtain a liquor license.

In the meantime, they don't plan to move. They say the move was expensive, and in spite of the hit their business is taking without a liquor license, they like their new location and the neighbors that come with it, including the LDS Church.



  • Jeffrey

    We love the Cinegrill and will continue to support them. Its sad that we can no longer get a glass of wine with our meal but still love the food and people. We were there last week and love the new place. The owner said they will continue to fight this issue for the license.

  • Robert Goldenstein

    Again another sad case of the state of Utah just trying to make it difficult for these small family run business to succeed. Seems like everything is okay with with church approving them to serve drinks just as long as its not on Sunday and they dont advertise on the windows. So I really dont see where the issue is. My family and I have been coming to this place for years and were just there this week, The church next door doesn’t even look like a church building as it set within the strip mall with the other businesses.

  • Jonathan

    Aside from Utah being messed up on the issue, it was the restaurant’s own fault for moving to a no-go zone. Mormons are very afraid of anything which diverts a person’s brain from Mormonism or their god. The light theocracy in Utah agrees. So the restaurant itself is to blame for not recognizing the situation, and moving to where they moved to.

  • Tonya

    Seriously what Century are we in? I’ve been going to the Cinegrill since I was 3years old and food is always the same and excellent! Another reason I hesitated moving back to Utah because of the control of “The Church” on the state, news, papers, shopping areas and even the liquor laws!

  • BOB

    In the business world it is called “due diligence”. Blaming the Mormons for their failure to do due diligence is like telling the police officer who is writing you a ticket that you didn’t speed limit sign.

    Too bad that those who don’t like Utah’s laws don’t bother to vote those legislators out of office.

  • BOB

    The story says the LDS Church wrote a letter welcoming them but the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control wasn’t enough to allow a variance to state law. Somebody would have to be light in the loafers to blame the LDS Church for the restaurant’s problems.

  • bob aagard

    The law is the law. It’s a law many states have. This business owner should have made sure they would be able to get a liquor license before spending all the money to move. The DABC may have some crazy rules, but they also make it easy to find them on their web site.

    • Greg

      Bob, A law that many states have, including capital cities of said states? Show some those statistics. Also, your logic is flawed. Just because “the law is the law” doesn’t always mean that the law is ethically sound or shouldn’t be evaluated, especially when said law has no visible, empirical benefit other than proving that the Utah government is set on serving nobody but the religious majority.

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