An Open Letter to Utah’s State Lawmakers by Utah Hospitality Operators
To Our Elected Officials,
We are Utah business owners in crisis. We are Utahns, we are voters, and we need your help. For the last several years, we have invested our time, money, and entrepreneurial spirit in the dream of opening our own businesses; businesses that provide jobs and services to our local community. And yet we are at risk of failure before we can even open our doors due to outdated and unfair state laws that restrict us from obtaining the basic licensing we need to open. As you are well aware, Utah arbitrarily restricts the number of bar licenses available for distribution. As the state experiences unprecedented growth, there are now more aspiring bar operators than there are bar licenses available. At the current pace of license distribution, most of us will be unable to open for at least another year, even though the vast majority of our operations are on track to open within the next six months, or much sooner. Instead of focusing our attention on the tireless work of opening a new business, we are stuck in limbo, unable to open our doors and uncertain if or when we will be able to do so.
It is time for you to deeply consider what benefit the State of Utah and its residents receive from artificially restricting liquor licenses. Gatekeepers will point to the “social interest” as the primary rationale for restricting bar licenses, yet there is zero evidence that the existing law disincentivizes overall alcohol consumption.
More importantly, the current law is inconsistent with our state’s self-proclaimed pro-business and small- government principles. Consider the negative downstream economic effects. Not only will fewer hospitality businesses find financial backing, which reduces available jobs, consumer spending, and household income, but any company or institute considering an investment in Utah will think twice before coming here, so long as the State is proactively interfering in the free-market development of culture and entertainment.
Even with these important considerations in mind, none of this speaks to the human and emotional toll. We would encourage all elected officials to attend a DABC meeting and witness firsthand as Utah entrepreneurs are forced to plead their case and the Commission is left in the unenviable position of choosing who will succeed and who will fail. The meetings are taxing and frustrating for everyone involved, including the DABC Commission, which has vocally and publicly called on the Legislature to address the issue by increasing the number of bar licenses available for distribution. We implore you to view our position with compassion, to place yourselves in our shoes as business owners who have risked everything to pursue our dream, only for arcane laws to place our careers and families in jeopardy at the finish line.
As current and prospective business owners in Utah, we call on the Legislature to heed the call of the people of our State and of the DABC itself and immediately introduce and pass legislation that increases available bar licenses and clears the path for local businesses to open their doors today, and in the future.
Jeff Polychronis, Squatters Craft Beers
Peter Cole, Squatters Craft Beers
Greg Schirf, Wasatch Brewery
Katy Willis, Quarters Arcade Bar
Michael Eccleston, Quarters Arcade Bar
Tim Ryan, Bout Time Pub & Grub
George Cardon-Bystry, Edison House
Charlie Cardon, Edison House
Jeff Bernard, Edison Alley Group: Bar X, Beer Bar, Eating Establishment
Scott Evans, PAGO Restaurant Group: PAGO, Hub & Spoke, East Liberty Tap House
Jameel Gaskins, Seabird, Yoko Ramen
James Soares, Lotus Craft: Fife Brewing Co., Ogden River Brewing
Katie McKeon, Salt City Kitchen
Britt Jursik, Challah Back Dough
Nick Marucci, Café Juniper
Leslie Corbett, Bjorn’s Brew
Buzz Willey, Pallet
Maxwell Christen, Big Mouth Marketing Garrett Clements, evo Hotel
Mike Askerlund, Alibi Bar & Place
Jeff Cardon, Edison House