Public hearings have been scheduled throughout the state to find out what Utahns think about the practice of "brown-bagging," the term used to describe customers bringing their own bottles of alcoholic beverages into restaurants and other places where drinking is allowed.
The first hearing is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 27 in the auditorium of the State Office Building, which is located behind the state Capitol. The next hearing is set Nov. 1 from 7-9 p.m. in Price, at city hall.That will be followed by hearings in Cedar City and Ogden. The Cedar City hearing is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and the Ogden hearing, from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Hilton Hotel.
Currently it is up to the management of each establishment to decide whether to allow brown-bagging. But the practice has caused concern over the lack of control businesses have over how much a customer consumes.
The issue is the first to be studied by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Review Task Force, which was created by the 1988 Legislature to review the state's liquor laws.
According to the co-chairman of the task force, Sen. Richard J. Carling, R-Salt Lake, Utah is one of the few states that still allow brown-bagging. Carling labeled the practice "archaic."
If brown-bagging is outlawed, however, lawmakers would likely be pressured to increase the number of state liquor licenses available to restaurants and private clubs to maintain the availability of alcohol.
Other questions raised include whether a new type of license for beer and wine only sales should be created. Currently, the state license allows both liquors and wines to be sold and beer licenses are issued locally.
Brown-bagging is allowed at many restaurants that do not have a state license and even at some that do. Other places where customers can bring their own bottles include beer taverns, private clubs, and convention and reception centers.
There has been a suggestion that the brown-bagging of wine be continued only at restaurants, both those with a state liquor license and those without. But task force members will not make a recommendation until after they review the results of the public hearings.