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A tavern inside a grocery store is giving Utah liquor control commissioners a little heartburn

Posted at 12:33 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 14:33:47-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Smith’s Food & Drug is asking Utah’s alcohol control commission to allow it to build a beer tavern inside the Park City store.

But the idea of a tavern — next to a Starbucks — made some Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control commissioners nervous.

“This is kind of new and different for Utah,” a DABC staffer told the commission at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

A representative for Smith’s told the DABC commission the concept has been tried in Los Alamos, NM, and Las Vegas, Nev., with some success.

“This is something with the Park City market that we felt would be well suited to our customers in that market,” Steve Sorensen, the vice-president of corporate development for Smith’s Food & Drug, told the commission.

Tourists would enjoy Utah craft beers on tap. The proposed tavern would have a 48-inch wall around it to try to keep minors out. It would have 16 taps and fill growlers.

The store promised to monitor customers to ensure they did not bring outside beer into the tavern area. The Park City store would have more of a barrier than the taverns in other states to comply with Utah liquor laws. It also could not be open 24 hours a day, unlike the rest of the grocery store.

The DABC said there are concerns about the idea of growlers and where they can be taken in a grocery store.

Commissioner Thomas Jacobson, who lives in Park City and shops in the store, said he was concerned about the tavern being next to a Starbucks, where children buy hot chocolate.

“If you look at your plan and you look at how Starbucks operates, especially as people mill around in the wintertime, it’s obviously one of your top producers in the wintertime, people are going to be up against this pony wall,” he said. “A lot of them will be kids.”

The DABC commission agreed to delay a vote to give Smith’s Food & Drug time to work with the agency to find some resolution to any potential problem.