Lockhart, who says she has never had alcohol in her life, said she doesn't buy the argument that removing the partition would lead to privatizing alcohol sales in Utah.
Valentine doesn't share Lockhart's view of having a separate area for alcohol storage and dispensing in restaurants. He disagrees with characterizations that its weird, pointing to the same law in neighboring Wyoming.
"If you go to Jackson Hole, you're going to have the same kind of situation as you have in Park City," he said. "I have not yet heard anybody call Wyoming's law Zion's wall or Zion's curtain."
Still, in Utah it's one of the reasons that the state's liquor laws get criticized.
"There is some extent to which you could say every state is quirky, and they're supposed to be," Jernigan said. "States are supposed to be able to experiment, to try different things to do what fits their specific situation."
Valentine said the separate preparation areas along with requirements to serve food with alcohol, limit hours of alcohol service and have a 70/30 food-to-alcohol sales ratio are intended to distinguish restaurants from bars.
He said those elements were watered down for a while but reaffirmed in 2009 as part of a legislative compromise that did away requiring bar patrons buy a private club membership to enter a bar.
"To me it's about having an operation that gives more of a restaurant kind of feel rather than a pushing of alcohol," he said.
Some restaurants, he said, want to ease the restrictions so they can have a dessert cart with alcohol to boost their sales.
"We really don't want to have increased sales of alcohol. We don't want to have promotion of alcohol," Valentine said.
Valentine, who, like Lockhart, is a nondrinker, said he's not proposing major changes this year and wants to see how the current laws are working.
Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser, R-Sandy, said the majority of Republicans in the Senate have no appetite for changing the current alcohol laws.
Lockhart said companies considering coming to Utah first want to know about the state's air quality, education system and liquor laws. Removing the barrier in restaurants, she said, is a "minor" thing lawmakers could do to change people's perception of the state.
A new poll shows 42 percent of voters think the state's liquor laws create an unfavorable image of Utah, while 21 percent say they create a favorable image. But 34 percent of those surveyed say the impression is neither favorable nor unfavorable.
Dan Jones & Associates polled 627 registered voters this month for Weber State University and the Exoro Group, a Salt Lake public policy communications firm. The poll has a plus or minus 3.9 percent margin of error.
Melva Sine, though, sees the liquor barrier as a "little brown speck that media around the country like to peck at. We'd just like to get rid of it."
Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association, said it reflects negatively on the state. It doesn't make sense that an "obscene" wall somehow prevents the downside of drinking, she said.
"We're making criminals out of everyone who drinks alcohol," Sine said. "That's wrong. It's a legal substance."
In its statement, the LDS Church said each of the four components that distinguish restaurants from bars is essential in guarding against overconsumption, underage drinking and DUI.
"Why would we want to risk losing any of those benefits?" Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in the statement.
"We need to stay where we are because we have established something that strikes the right balance between reasonable consumption by those who are in the age that is permitted to drink."
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