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Liquor licenses dry up, renew quota debate

Liquor licenses dry up, renew quota debate



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SALT LAKE CITY -- When the state liquor control board meets again next month, it expects to have a waiting list for full-service liquor licenses - and a better sense for where lawmakers stand on the state's quota system.

The DABC granted seven full-service liquor licenses at its meeting Thursday. That leaves just one license left under the current quota system, which is based on Utah's population.

Chairman Sam Granato isn't waiting for lawmakers to get back to work in January to address the shortage of licenses.

"I instructed the staff yesterday to reach out to the legislature and see if we couldn't have a meeting before our next meeting, and see what our alternatives are," he tells KSL.

Granato has made no secret that he's not a fan of quotas. He believes they are anti-business, and says regardless of your personal feelings about alcohol, it's a big moneymaker for Utah.

"We're one agency that has probably 10 stores under construction to keep up with the demand in this state," Granato says. "We put about $270,000 a day profit back into the general fund."

Granato says getting rid of quotas would not amount to a free-for-all on liquor licenses. Businesses would still have to go through the application process and meet the board's standards in order to serve or sell alcohol.

"All the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed before it comes to our plate, and then it's up to us to make a judgment call," Granato explains.

Businesses that can't get a full-service liquor license because of the quota issue can still apply for a limited-service license, of which 11 are left, or a beer license.

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

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Becky Bruce

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