Back in the ‘good old days’, Utah bars and restaurants were required by law to separate alcoholic drink preparation from patrons using permanent Zion curtains. Our illustrious legislators decided to fix that problem last year, but what they came up with is even worse. The whole, sordid affair is a great example of why we offer alcohol training.
The Utah Restaurant Association makes food and alcohol safety a priority. Through our alcohol training program, students learn how to safely serve alcohol and deal with the difficult situations arising from it. Establishment operators and their staffs learn how to maintain compliance with all alcohol-related laws.
We expect an influx of new students if the state does not fix the Zion curtain fix in short order. We also expect, like so many others, that a failure to act may end up creating more bars in Utah. The legislature probably never intended that.
The Zion Curtains of Old
Prior to spring of 2017, food and alcohol safety in Utah was partially guided by a law that required establishments with either limited-service or full-service restaurant licenses to keep alcoholic beverages out of the view of patrons who did not want to see them. This was accomplished through the deployment of Zion curtains.
Zion curtains were solid, translucent, and permanent partitions that separated patrons from any area in which alcoholic beverages were prepared. The separation prevented anyone from seeing drinks being prepared or poured.
Seen as archaic and not really effective, the law was challenged by bars, restaurants, and industry associations a number of years back. The good news is that the state legislature listened. The bad news is that their fix is worse than the original problem itself.
The New Requirements
Under the Zion curtain fix, establishments that would have previously needed the Zion curtains now have to keep alcohol separate by creating individual rooms. There must be a separate dining area for patrons consuming alcohol along with another dining area for those not imbibing.
The two areas must be separated by fixed walls. Any halls or doorways that join the two areas must not allow any view of alcohol preparation whatsoever.
Sometimes You Need a Program
There are a lot of legislative happenings in Utah that could only occur in this state. Our restrictive alcohol laws are but one example. Sometimes things get so convoluted that you need a program to keep up. This is exactly why we offer alcohol training.
Food and alcohol safety training goes way beyond the basics of learning how to get alcohol safely from bar to table. It goes way beyond learning how to evaluate the signs of potential intoxication. Everyone from restaurant owners to bartenders and servers need to be intimately familiar with the law in order to limit their own liability.
Not knowing the law is a recipe for disaster. It only takes one slip-up to jeopardize a business’s future survival. One mistake can easily result in fines, prosecution, jail time, and loss of a liquor license or one’s business entirely.
We get it. The state legislature wanted to help out our industry by doing away with Zion curtains. We appreciate their willingness to act. But their solution has gone too far. They have created a problem that now seriously endangers bars and restaurants across the state.
If your establishment is affected by the new legislation, we strongly urge you to consider food and alcohol safety training for your staff. The last thing you need is to run afoul of the law.