Troubled liquor store may reopen

Posted at 5:11 PM, Sep 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 19:11:34-04

EDEN, Utah -- The tiny liquor store that sparked a massive scandal involving Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control may reopen in Eden under new management.

Richard Schneider went before a subcommittee of the state liquor commission last month asking to open a package agency.

The previous package agency closed in 2010. A state audit released in 2011 revealed a $300,000 loss at the store. Outrage from lawmakers led to more audits of DABC, and more allegations of mismanagement, bid-rigging, missing booze and other problems that led to a house cleaning of top leaders at the agency.

"I've been told by the DABC that Eden's a four-letter word down here," Schneider joked in a recent interview with FOX 13.

Yet Schneider is still seeking to reopen the package store, and liquor commissioners were receptive to the idea. A "package agency" is run by a subcontractor with the state. They are often located in towns too small for a state-run liquor store.

"I think there's been a house cleaning down here in the last couple of years that's led to a bunch of clear minded people," Schneider said. "I think they understand it's about getting a product to the public that generates revenue."

With the Eden package agency closed, the nearest liquor store is on Ogden's Wall Avenue, an hour round-trip in moderate traffic. Schneider's request has approval from local leaders and some members of the community.

"There's a lot of tourists all the time and everything else up here. It'd be a good thing for Eden to have another liquor agency," said Pat Brennan, who runs Pat's Food Shack next door to the proposed liquor store.

Reopening the Eden liquor store is not a done deal, despite DABC commissioners supporting the idea in their Aug. 27 meeting. They have not budgeted for such a store, and would need legislative approval.

"It's an interesting situation," DABC Commissioner Constance White said at the meeting. "You may not have the budget for it, but if you could do it, it would throw more revenue to the state."

The DABC made $81 million in profit last year off of liquor sales.