'Zion Curtain' Could Be Coming Down

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A bill being submitted by House Majority Brad Wilson would get rid of the so called "Zion Curtain" in Utah. The current law requires all alcoholic drinks in restaurants be prepared our of public view behind a wall or curtain. Industry leaders are applauding the proposal.

The bill also includes regulatory changes on liquor licenses to help simplify the process. It adds money for prevention of underage drinking, and drunk driving. There is also a proposal for a 1-2 percent increase in the wholesale alcohol tax to help pay for the programs.

Rep. Wilson said he's finalizing the wording now. He notes this is about being change alcohol policy with the times, and get rid of things that don't work.

"At the same time looking at how can we with certain things that maybe aren't working like we would like them to in the future," said Wilson. "One of those things is the Zion Curtain."

Wilson collaborated more than a year with other lawmakers and stakeholders to get a proposal ready.

Michele Corigliana is the Executive Director of Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, and helped work on the proposal. She notes how excited the restaurant industry is to do away with the Zion Curtain. She said all restaurants want to help deal with underage drinking and DUI's.

"We can still achieve the same end result which is going to be good, and responsible liquor legislation, and be able to take down the Zion Curtain," said Corigliana.

She notes that it's been a confusing process for many restaurants to comply, and can often delay openings or add extra costs to construction.

Jorje Fierro is the CEO and President of Frida Bistro in Salt Lake City. He opened seven years ago and said he had to use a spare room to comply with the law. It didn't allow him to set up a bar area the way he would have wanted to.

He's hopeful if the law is changed it will be easier for restaurants to open and expand without the extra costs.

"You can save as much as five to ten thousand dollars not having to errect that curtain," said Fierro.

The bill is expected to be submitted next week in the house.

 


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