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Liquor Licenses Attract Utah Restaurants Aiming To Expand

For the first time in several years, Utah lawmakers did not discuss changes to the state's liquor laws during a legislative session despite a request by restaurant owners in the state to increase the number of licenses issued in Utah. 

Robert Sanderson is the general manager of Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread in Logan, a local in-house cafe featuring pastries, artisan bread and a deli. 

Crumb Brothers wants to expand its product line, so right now Sanderson is going through the process of applying for a restaurant — limited service license to allow his business to sell and serve alcohol on site. 

"It's something that we had thought about since reopening and it really kind of gained some steam when we heard that other people thought it would be a good idea and we were just looking at overall sustainment of the bakery," Sanderson said. 

In expanding Crumb Brothers, one vision Sanderson has is to offer mimosas with Sunday brunch.

Sanderson has already submitted the application to the state which was due by March 10, and he is hoping for the go-ahead in April. In expanding Crumb Brothers, one vision he has is to offer mimosas with Sunday brunch. 

"But then in our mind we also see kind of a nice summery feel of a glass of wine with some live music or something off the barbeque or something like that too," Sanderson said.  

Credit Katie Peikes / UPR
Crumb Brothers, located at 291 S. 300 West in Logan.

Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) Public Information Officer VickieAshby said because there are so few of these licenses available there may be a competitive feel to the process. But, she said, the DABC does not make businesses compete.  

"If there's a license available and they meet all the requirements, then they are granted their license," Ashby said.   

Current law allows the state to issue one restaurant — limited service license per every 7,493 people in the state.

Current law allows the state to issue one restaurant — limited service license per every 7,493 people in the state. After taking a population quota each month, the DABC determines whether or not there are more of these licenses available. 

In order to be issued a permit to serve alcohol Ashby said restaurant owners need to become familiar with the process.  

"They need to submit their organization documents so we know that they're signing the application and getting their permit on behalf of their company," Ashby said. "If you're close to a public library, a church, a school, or anything like that you would have to get a proximity variance. They also have to get a surety bond, a certificate of liability insurance, they have to have dram insurance, and then the state will work with them to make sure they meet the statute regarding the requirement for alcohol to be prepared behind a translucent barrier. "

As part of their process for obtaining a license, Crumb Brother sought a variance from the Logan City School District and the Logan Municipal Council, since it is close to a high school and a city park. Both the school board and the council approved the variance, but Crumb Brothers saw opposition from Councilman Gene Needham who claimed, "Alcohol is a problem and has ruined the lives of millions of people."  

"I think it's a plague and a problem," Needham said at a council meeting in February. "If I had been on the council any time and every time that alcohol had been suggested for one place after another, I would have voted against it every time."

Some Crumb Brothers customers see alcohol in this environment differently, including Smithfield resident Kathleen Capels. 

"There's a balance between what it is that you're eating, a certain richness, and at least what they're thinking about is mimosas for Sundays, is a nice contrast with the sugar and whipped cream and rich things," Capels said.

Logan resident Dave Wind said alcohol at a restaurant helps enhance the social atmosphere. 

"It's beneficial to have a place where adults and minors can mix together in an environment where alcohol isn't just seen as something you go to a bar to get, but what it really is," Wind said. "It's a social median. It's a way to get people together and talk and visit."

Since 2009, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has granted 401 liquor licenses for the purpose of consuming wine or beer in a restaurant setting. In February, the state reached its quota but the DABC said more will be made available in April.

The cost of applying for a restaurant — limited service license is an initial fee of $825, topped with a $330 processing fee. If a business is renewing its license, the cost is $605.