Senate clears path for restaurant chains to get liquor licenses

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26 2013 12:20 p.m. MST

Restaurants that serve alcohol would not have to wait for a state liquor license to become available in order to open more locations under a bill the Senate approved Tuesday.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Restaurants that serve alcohol would not have to wait for a state liquor license to become available in order to open more locations under a bill the Senate approved Tuesday.

SB167 would create a "master" license that a restaurant chain could obtain to cover all of its outlets rather than having to get permits for each one.

The measure would remove the uncertainty for big chains as to whether liquor licenses would be available under Utah's quota system, said bill sponsor Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem. It also would provide for more restaurants to serve alcohol.

"It gives predictability for someone who wants to expand," Valentine said.

A master full-service restaurant license would cost $1,500 plus a separate $2,200 fee for each location, making it more expensive than buying single licenses. A full-service restaurant may offer liquor, wine and beer. A master license would not be available to bars and social clubs.

The bill also calls for increased enforcement of state liquor laws. It includes a formula for more enforcement officers based on the number of restaurant locations, not licenses issued.

The Senate approved the bill 25-1. It now goes to the House.

Dennis Romboy

Twitter: dennisromboy

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