Starbucks drops liquor license to serve beer and wine at Utah stores

Posted at 4:23 PM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 20:48:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Coffee giant Starbucks has apparently dropped its plans to serve beer and wine at some of its Utah locations.

Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed to FOX 13 that Starbucks opted not renew its liquor license, which was granted earlier this year.

“At this time, we have reconsidered the timing of our plans to launch Evenings in Utah and will stay focused on our existing store experience,” a Starbucks spokesperson told FOX 13 Tuesday.

A DABC spokesman said it was a conditional license and Starbucks did not go through with its plans. Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Starbucks has offered beer and wine at some of its stores out of state, but ran into issues with Utah’s rather “unique” liquor laws. Earlier this year, DABC commissioners worried about setting precedent by granting it. DABC Commission Chairman John Nielsen told FOX 13 he approached the legislature for advice when Starbucks first sought a license last year, who told the DABC to deal with it.

The DABC approved the license with conditions.

Starbucks obtained what was called a “master license” under Utah liquor laws, allowing them to skip the line for highly coveted alcohol permits in Utah. It paid for one license and then sub-licenses for each of its stores. The coffee giant planned to serve beer and wine at stores in Salt Lake City, Farmington, Holladay, Park City and Lehi.

Under the terms of the license, Starbucks would have been required to install “Zion Curtains,” which prevent you from seeing drinks being made; require guests to state an “intent to dine” before being served alcohol; add kitchens to meet the legal criteria of food; and only 30 percent of its sales could be alcohol.