Utah elim­i­nates “Zion Cur­tains”

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

SALT LAKE CITY» A trendy down­town Salt Lake City seafood restau­rant started busi­ness Satur­day with glass-smash­ing and cham­pagne, a sym­bolic ges­ture in its eman­ci­pa­tion from Utah’s so-called “Zion Cur­tains” al­co­hol law.

“It feels fab­u­lous and lib­er­at­ing. It’s a hal­lelu­jah mo­ment,” said Joel LaSalle, owner of Cur­rent Fish & Oys­ter. “It’ll make our restau­rant twice as beau­ti­ful be­cause you can ac­tu­ally see the $100,000 bar and wall.”

The new liquor law went into ef­fect Satur­day, mak­ing wine, liquor and higher-al­co­hol beer more ex­pen­sive while also al­low­ing some res­tau­rants to take down walls and par­ti­tions that were meant to pre­vent cus­tomers from see­ing their al­co­holic drinks be­ing mixed and poured.

The broad liquor law passed in March eased a long­time re­quire­ment that drinks be pre­pared be­hind bar­ri­ers known as “Zion Cur­tains,” typ­i­cally glass walls or back rooms. It’s based on the premise that the bar­ri­ers shield chil­dren from al­co­hol cul­ture and what some per­ceive as the glam­our of bar­tend­ing, and pre­vents un­der­age drink­ing.

The Zion Cur­tain nick­name is a ref­er­ence to The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints, which plays an in­flu­en­tial role in state liquor pol­icy.

The rule has been a long­time thorn in the side of Utah’s restau­rant in­dus­try, which has com­plained that the bar­ri­ers can be ugly and awk­ward, and point out that chil­dren can still see cus­tomers drink­ing al­co­hol. They also ar­gued the rule pun­ished newer res­tau­rants, be­cause those built be­fore 2009 were not re­quired to have a bar­rier.

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