The Utah Liquor Law Task Force is taking a close look at "brown-bagging" liquor in Utah restaurants and will hold a series of four public hearings around the state in November to discuss the practice.
Brown-bagging is a Utah phenomenon born of restrictive liquor laws. Drinkers buy their bottles at a state store, take it to a restaurant or bar and pour the contents into mixers bought from a waitress.Public hearings will be announced soon for Ogden, Salt Lake, Price and Cedar City, the task force decided earlier this week.
The panel was created by the Legislature earlier this year as a companion bill to a measure allowing allowed liquor service to tables at the state's approximately 180 licensed restaurants.
Brown-bagging is neither prohibited nor authorized in state law, so public eating and drinking establishments have the option of permitting it or not.
The vast majority of taverns and bars in the state, which are not state-licensed because they sell only beer, make most of their money on the sale of setups to brown baggers, said Donald D. Beck, executive director of the Utah Licensed Clubs Association.
Meantime, the Utah Restaurant Association's upcoming newsletter will be polling eateries statewide on various aspects of brown-bagging, said spokesman Neil Cohen.
"We will poll 900 restaurants and hope for several hundred responses," he said.
About 95 responses already have been received to the poll, he said, and preliminary tabulations show 52 percent of the respondents allow brown-bagging.