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Utah Lawmakers Consider Bill To Kill 'Zion Curtain'

The Utah Legislature heard a proposal on Wednesday that would change the state liquor regulations, and eliminate a provision requiring the mixing of alcoholic beverages take place out-of-view of patrons.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The Utah Legislature heard a proposal on Wednesday that would change the state liquor regulations, and eliminate the so-called "Zion Curtain" -- a provision which requires the mixing of alcoholic beverages to occur out-of-view of restaurant and bar patrons.

Currently, the "Zion Curtain" law prohibits any bar or restaurant from mixing spirits in plain sight. Consequently, many establishments have erected short barriers near the mixing area to hide the practice. Other servers simply duck out of sight when they add the liquor portion of the drink.

The law was originally designed to protect children and teenagers from witnessing the process, which some lawmakers believe could encourage underage drinking. However, the lawmakers trying to change that requirement believe that it only harms businesses -- and by association, the local economy.

"If I had any evidence that the Zion wall reduced teen drinking, I would [agree with it]," said Rep. Ryan Wilcox (R-Ogden), the bill's sponsor. "But there isn't."

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee gave House Bill 228 (view) a favorable recommendation on Tuesday. Wednesday, the House was expected to consider advancing the proposal. However, lawmakers noted that the language of the bill will likely change as it proceeds through the legislature.

In 2009, state law required bars and restaurants to construct a 7-foot barrier around their mixing areas to shield patrons from the sight of alcohol mixing. Furthermore, establishments that were in business before the law took effect were not required to construct the Zion Curtain -- leading to complaints that the requirement hurts new businesses, but protects older ones.

Rovali's Italian restaurant in Ogden built a wall in compliance with the law. But officials claimed it wasn't sufficient, so the owner introduced a fake olive tree that servers can duck behind when mixing alcohol.

- House Bill 228 (Substitute Alcoholic Beverage Control Act Amendments)
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