It's not a place to get drunk. It's place to congregate with neighbors who don't want to interact through Facebook or religious congregations. —Guy Nickerson
SALT LAKE CITY — What might be the first neighborhood bar on Salt Lake City's east bench since Prohibition is getting some pushback from neighbors.
Bryce Jones has plans to turn a former bank into BrewHaHa Tavern at 2108 E. 1300 South. He has applied for a conditional use permit from the city, and Tuesday he appeared before the state liquor commission for a license to sell beer.
"There's community demand for this," he told the commission.
BrewHaHa would offer coffee and pastries beginning at 6 a.m. each morning and then become a tavern starting at 10 a.m., serving beer, deli sandwiches, soups and salads, he said. He envisions it as quiet neighborhood bar.
No under 21 would be permitted inside, but the bar would have drive-through service for coffee and other nonalcoholic drinks. Indoor seating would accommodate about 150 people, while an outdoor patio would have room for about 50, he said. Jones said BrewHaHa has access to 17 parking spaces on site with at least 160 more in the surrounding area.
"We want to be a community-friendly business that's not just serving alcohol," Jones said. "We're not a high-powered nightclub where we're drawing hundreds of people in a night.
But some residents who live near the proposed tavern say it's incompatible with the neighborhood.
"Mr. Jones and I appear to be on two different planets," John Dibble told the commission. "He's not designing a tavern. He's designing a full-fledged sports bar."
Dibble said the bar would attract an influx of University of Utah students, especially after sporting events. He also said being both a coffee shop and tavern would put minors on the premises in violation of state law.
To ease neighborhood concerns, he said he's already consented to scale back business hours, staying open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, rather than 2 a.m. He said he expects many customers would be on foot or bicycles.
Marie Cornwall, who lives on nearby Sherman Avenue, said she and her neighbors previously dealt with parking problems when the Dodo restaurant moved in. (The restaurant has since relocated.) Residents had to buy permits from the city to park in front of their houses, she said.
"The residents of Sherman Avenue are worried that (Jones) will be successful," Cornwall said. "If he is successful, what will it do to our quiet neighborhood?"
Other nearby residents, though, said a neighborhood pub is what the Foothill community needs.
Guy Nickerson said he sees BrewHaHa as a gathering spot.
"It's not a place to get drunk," he said. "It's place to congregate with neighbors who don't want to interact through Facebook or religious congregations."
Robin Harmston, a mother of three children, said, "I'm not a big drinker, but I want to go to a place where I can talk to adults."
Jones told the alcohol commission his proposal is exactly what Salt Lake City intended when it passed an ordinance last year allowing establishments to serve alcohol in a commercial zone under certain conditions. He said he understands his bar would be the first on the east bench since Prohibition, which was repealed as a constitutional amendment in December 1933 with Utah casting the clinching vote.
Department of Alcoholic Beverages Commissioner Olivia Vela Agraz said it could be a good addition to the community if it's managed properly.
The commission did not grant Jones an alcohol license Tuesday but will consider it next month after the city decides whether to give Jones a conditional use permit.