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State Running Out of Liquor Licenses for Restaurants

State Running Out of Liquor Licenses for Restaurants



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- An increasing demand among restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages has resulted in the state nearly running out of available liquor licenses.

The Legislature has set up a quota system for licenses that is dictated by state population. Alcoholic Beverage Control commissioners can only issue one license to serve just beer and wine for every 11,000 people in the state, or 244 licenses.

The commission issued its 243rd license on Friday to the Fortune Cookie in Riverton. "We're pretty lucky," said manager Sianny Tan, whose restaurant has been open for nearly two months. "They chose me because I was polite. I told the truth."

Three other applicants were denied. "It's frustrating -- we've been on the agenda four times and we still can't get a license," said Justin Holbrook, owner of Mountain Mike's Pizza in West Jordan. Holbrook said his primary competitor has a liquor license.

Licenses for serving liquor along with beer and wine also are running out. Commissioners were told only 19 of those licenses remain.

On Friday, newly elected Commissioner Bobbie Coray suggested setting standards for who gets the remaining licenses. "Maybe we should be more selective," said Coray. "If we give out licenses to strip clubs or we give them to tacky places, we'll be using them up."

During her first meeting last month, Coray cast the only dissenting votes in granting licenses for three sexually oriented businesses, saying the clubs "are demeaning to women." "You wouldn't have much of a business if all you offered was a Diet Coke," Coray told club owners.

Some additional licenses may become available when restaurants close or liquor licenses expire on Oct. 31. Division spokeswoman Sharon Mackay said population increases usually allow for a new license or two every few months.

It was recommended that the commissioners ask lawmakers to increase the quotas. The Legislature reconvenes in January.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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