Sure, that Sounds Like a Good use of Public Funds

Via the Salt Lake TribuneUtah liquor cops clamp down on drinks before food

Compliance officers and the state’s liquor-control agency say they are warning owners that their employees are in violation of Utah law if they serve alcohol before diners actually request food. To back up the effort, authorities in undercover stings have issued citations to eateries for this type of violation, which in the past was rarely enforced.


Vickie Ashby denied there had been any broad change of policy. She referred to a statute which states “restaurant licensee may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product except in connection with an order for food prepared, sold, and furnished at the licensed premises.”

Ashby added that because some restaurants were not following the law, the DABC issued a reminder within the body of a holiday newsletter. Under the title, “Warning!” it said in bold print that to avoid penalties “the best practice would be to require that the food order be placed prior to service of the alcoholic beverage.”

I am guessing you can’t get freedom fries in Utah…

On the one hand, I find this to be rather silly.  On the other, it clearly reflects the basic political culture of the place.

FILED UNDER: Religion, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Forget it, Steven – it’s Chinatown Utah.

  2. Don’t bars in Utah offer complementary peanuts, and other such assorted snacks?

    In any event, this strikes me as being as ridiculous as the only recently repealed South Carolina law that required bars and restaurants to dispense hard liquor in those little airplane-sized bottles.

  3. @Doug Mataconis: Indeed. I can fully understand the state’s interest is curtailing public drunkenness, but this is just micro-managing businesses and individual behavior.

    Of course, for the longest time you couldn’t have draft beer in Montgomery and the alcohol content limitations meant most craft beers could not be sold here. When I moved here in 1998, the beer landscape was like the surface of the moon. Now, thankfully, that has changed, I think home brew is still illegal, however, Of course, it all boils down to religious views on alcohol.

  4. Markey says:

    I did time in Utah, at Dugway Proving Grounds. Utah makes you wanna drink..


  5. Mikey says:

    I was surprised, when visiting Salt Lake City in the late 1990s, that I was able to get a beer at all. But they even had microbrew pubs, which I recall having some decent beers despite being limited to 3.2% alcohol.

  6. dennis says:

    Funny, in the light of this little ditty:

    So, it’s okay to run around shootin’ at folks, but it’s not okay to have a drink before dinner? Hmm . . .

  7. JKB says:

    Now, they talk about religion and morals when they talk about liquor laws but you really have to look at the cash. After the Progs took the liquor then gave it back for the tax revenues, they made deal still in place in many locals that the liquor would be a cartel. Beer, wine and liquor distributorships are very lucrative and generally are controlled by families, who, surprise, have tight links with state legislators.

    It’s Baptists and bootleggers but it all about the Benjamins.

    When I was in Costa Rica, they served a little sampling (couple bites) of food with every drink, tiny tapas. It was required by law. I suppose that is problematic in restaurants who make money off appetizers and meals.

  8. @JKB: How in the word is suppressing sales about the benjamins?

    And, seriously, Utah is no run by “progs” and I assure you that Alabama isn’t.

    This is clearly one of those cases in which your ideological filters need to be adjusted.

  9. Gustopher says:

    If the people of the state support the law (and, since it was passed by their representatives, I would assume they do), and it doesn’t violate anyone’s rights, well then, why not have a stupid, intrusive, moralizing law? This one is even harmless.

    It’s like funding sports stadiums — stupid, but popular, and ultimately just a waste.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    Aren’t you the one supporting the NRA ad that was a lie?
    Haves you owned up to your BS?
    Why should any pay an attention to what you think?
    Its wrong based on your history.

  11. @Gustopher: Indeed, Like I said:

    On the one hand, I find this to be rather silly. On the other, it clearly reflects the basic political culture of the place.

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    It is after all a Mormon State. I remember years ago I used to travel through Salt Lake on business and had to buy a license to have a drink at the airport. They eventually did a way with much of that since it was hurting economic development it Utah – nobody wanted to move there.

  13. That at least explains something that happened once when I was in downtown SLC last summer. I only remember it being an issue one place during the week I was there, so maybe they were being more strict than other places I ate & had a beer (or maybe different rules apply to bars that serve food).

  14. al-Ameda says:

    Okay, now can we all agree that everyone in Utah should be subject to a background check?

  15. James H says:

    God help you if you serve the main course before the salad.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Now, thankfully, that has changed, I think home brew is still illegal,

    A buddy of mine in northern AL was home brewing during the late ’90s, and he wasn’t shy about it. He had a garage wall covered with red and blue ribbons from competitions he won. Not that that means it was legal

  17. Tony W says:

    @al-Ameda: Yes, and a vaginal probe

  18. @OzarkHillbilly: Given that some homebrewers in the state used to (and may still) bring their products to the capitol every year to use to try and lobby the legislators, clearly enforcement is not a high priority

  19. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Our “town” just voted in alcoholic beverages in November. Until then you had to go clear over to another country. But there will be no Sunday sales of alcohol. No businesses here are allowed to open before noon on Sundays.

  20. @Tyrell: Yup. When I lived in Williamson County, Texas, some of the precincts were dry, others not. And when we moved to AL you could not buy alcohol on Sundays. Even now some stores have “Beer Available on Sundays” banners out front.

  21. de stijl says:


    Until then you had to go clear over to another country.

    Hopefully you live within a few hours from Mexico or Canada, otherwise that could be burdensome.

  22. Tillman says:

    That’s gotta hurt for some of the national chains where the procedure is strictly, “Welcome to X! Can I start you off with some drinks?”

  23. Tyrell says:

    @de stijl: Sorry about the “r” in county. For some folks around here it might as well have been in another country. Convenience stores and restaurants right across the county line were packed on weekends; ours lost a lot of business and tax revenue. Sunday “blue” laws are still common in this part of the country – plays heck with vacation travel as these small towns are basically shut down except for churches. And watch out for the ever present speed traps in those places. I could a book, but that’ s a story for another day. I still don’ t know why they were called “blue” laws.