Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sabre Rattling

[Liquor Laws] At last night's Utah Hospitality Association's emergency meeting, both the successes and the problems of the group dedicated to making drinking a more pleasant and more profitable experience for bar owners and public alike were evident.

Legal spitfire Lisa McGarry, who has represented Clearfield-based bar, Bogeys, in its struggles with Utah's liquor czars, the DABC, told the less than packed meeting room at the downtown Salt Lake City Peery Hotel about the UHA's much-publicized plans for an initiative petition to end clubs having to demand membership when you fancy hoisting a brew. Ideas of how to solicit votes were swapped, ranging from vote boxes in the booze aisles of supermarkets to putting leaflets in publications such as City Weekly.

Bar owners also heard how the UHA had almost expired for lack of interest from the bar industry. One UHA official said of the 300 bars in Utah, only 25 are fee-paying members of the UHA. A bar owner suggested his competitors were suspicious of his motives when he rang up to encourage them to attend last night's meeting.

"What we've done up to now hasn't been working," another official opined. But recent media interest in the UHA's cause, support for the private club member bill even from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., suggests at least that if not a turning tide there just might be the beginning of a groundswell for change. (Stephen Dark)

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