Utah Alcoholic Beverage Services Act: Restaurant Compliance.


The Utah Alcoholic Beverage Services Act governs the regulation of alcohol sold in restaurants in Utah. Restaurant licenses are granted to facilities where 70% of the revenue is from food and no more than 30% from alcohol sales. Restaurants allow minors on the premises, but they may not sit within ten feet of any bar structure (subject to certain conditions). Restaurant patrons cannot stand with an alcoholic beverage.

Restaurants must be at least 300 feet (pedestrian walking route) and 200 feet (straight line) from any community location, which in Utah is defined as a church, playground, park, or school.

Individuals opening a restaurant in Utah need to obtain local consent from the municipality where the restaurant is located, dram shop liability insurance and undergo background checks for anyone owning more than 20% of the business. All applicants present before the DABS, which determines who gets a license based on clean violation history, the amount of other bars in the same locality, and the length of time the applicant has been waiting on a license. As there are plenty of restaurant licenses currently available in Utah, these are usually granted without the need for a presentation to the DABS commissioners.

All managers must undergo in-person training at the DABS; all servers must be Sips/Tips certified by a state-approved entity.

Issues that bars restaurants, and which we can help you with, include:

  • Local consent

  • City council presentations

  • DABS applications

  • Lease issues

  • Advertising & “specials”

  • Purchase or sale of the business

Top five FAQs or Did You Knows for Restaurant Liquor Licensing

  1. For new locations, no variances from churches/schools/parks, even if there are other liquor licenses right next door (300/200 feet)
  2. Manager training never expires; server training expires every three years.
  3. No guests standing with alcohol.
  4. No purchased-ahead alcohol (e.g., wine pairing dinners can only be booked online for food, not alcohol).
  5. Local laws can be stricter than the state, but not looser!