The liquor laws in Utah have always been bizarre. From requiring membership in “private clubs” to drink local microbrews to no Sunday beer and liquor sales to limiting beer to 3.2% alcohol content, the requirements placed on restaurants, bars, and liquor stores have always been more stringent than in other states. But the barriers state senator Michael Waddoups asked state liquor commissioners to require in restaurant bars were just too weird, even for Utah.
Nicknamed “Zion Curtains,” these barriers were placed on restaurant bar countertops to prevent minors from seeing alcoholic drinks being mixed. Nothing was allowed to pass over these barriers, not drinks, not food, not even a napkin or a bill. Instead, the bartender had to hand things off to a server, who brought things around the barrier to the customer. Needless to say, out of state customers required a lot of explanations when they sat down and ordered a beer or a drink.
Implementation and enforcement of the Zion Curtains was so difficult that Waddoups was forced to introduce legislation earlier this spring that removed their requirement. However, the bill wasn’t all concession for the conservative Republican. New restaurants from here on out will not be able to store or mix alcohol in their bars (which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?), and minors will not be allowed to linger in or near restaurant bars. Existing establishments will at least get to keep their bars stocked with a grandfather clause.
At least customers can get their food served straight over the counter again. Relieved restaurant owners tore down their barriers with some enthusiasm earlier this week.