SLC restaurant loses liquor license

Posted at 10:21 PM, Dec 09, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- One of Salt Lake City's oldest establishments may be without a liquor license for the first time.

The Cinegrill opened in the 1940s and has moved four times. The owner chose its most recent location at 1000 S. Main Street for the large parking lot out front.

The move was months in the making, and cost the restaurant thousands of dollars in construction costs. And now that it's up and running there's just one problem: no liquor license.

"We went from having customers call and ask us if we were open to having customers call and ask if we have our liquor license yet," said Brendan Page, a manager at Cinegrill.

In its earlier incarnations, it was customary for many diners to order a glass of wine with their meals. The Cinegrill specializes in Italian cuisine.

Before moving to the new location, there was a branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already meeting in a leased space in the same strip mall.

The owner of the Cinegrill reached out to church leaders while considering his move, and they responded with a welcoming letter, which also asked that the restaurant not serve alcohol on Sundays or advertise alcohol in its windows. Cinegrill provided FOX 13 with a copy of this letter which also states some branch members struggle with addictions, including alcohol.

The Cinegrill says closing on Sunday and not advertising alcohol was already part of their plan, so they were happy to comply with the church's requests.

But when the Cinegrill recently inquired with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control about getting a new liquor license, they were informed that the letter from the church wasn't enough to allow a variance to state law, which states an establishment serving alcohol must be at least 200 feet away from a church.

The DABC also told FOX 13 the LDS Branch, which meets in the leased space next to the Cinegrill meets the legal requirements of a church.

The Cinegrill is still exploring what, if any, legal options they may have to obtain a liquor license.

In the meantime, they don't plan to move. They say the move was expensive, and in spite of the hit their business is taking without a liquor license, they like their new location and the neighbors that come with it, including the LDS Church.