Utah's new liquor laws being noticed by out-of-staters

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's new liquor laws are being noticed by out-of-state people attending the Outdoor Retailers Summer Market.

The annual event is held at the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City, and this is the first year the new laws are in effect. Lawmakers made the changes this past legislative session.

"I've been coming to Utah on business probably for 15 years, and it used to be something you noticed. But now I don't notice one way or the other," said Scott Case, a San Francisco resident attending the Retailers show.

"I think it's a good thing. I see nothing but positive about that," said Duke Brown, a Bozeman, Mont., resident also attending the show.

In the past, those who wanted to visit several bars in Utah had to buy individual private club memberships.

"I think people found that strange and inconvenient," said Shaun Westfall, who is also visiting the show from San Francisco. "People didn't want to go through that hassle. That's quite the opposite of what they're looking for when they go out."

Several downtown bars have noticed an increase in business as well.

Rip Ripley, who runs the Green Street bar at Trolley Square, says the Outdoor Retailers Summer and Winter markets was always a big week for his business. Now, with the new laws, Ripley says business is even bigger.

"It's friendlier to people from out of town," he said. "There are less explanations about the membership laws. That was something hard for people to understand."

Ripley thinks the new liquor laws will help attract more out-of-state business to Utah, which was one of the reasons legislators changed them.

"It just seems more normal to people now," Ripley said. "People now just show their ID, which is normal for any bar in the world."

"It's like everywhere else now," Westfall said. "Salt Lake City is a great town and a great place to have fun."

Of course, even with the new laws, many say they're hoping people out "bar-hopping" don't ruin it.

"I certainly hope people drink responsibly," Brown said. "That's the one concern I have."

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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