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Mythical Utah bar license spotted in the wild, then gobbled up

DABC commissioners gathered this week to debate the outcome of an unexpectedly available bar license – which at this point are right up there with unicorns in terms of improbability. Commissioners didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind the freed license, but if memory serves, one license was being held back pending ongoing litigation – presumably that’s now resolved. At any rate, the next population-dictated license is not set to available until December.

The specially convened meeting on November 4th sought to address whether any of the pending applicants should be quickly issued said license. Moreover, with Thanksgiving and the sales boom that brings, would any applicant (and the states coffers) see an immediate fillip. If you recall, a dozen applicants are currently in line for a license. If you don’t, here they all are with their respective opening dates:

  • Fenice Mediterranean Bistro, Salt Lake City, open
  • Wasatch Loft & Tap Room Bar, Park City, open
  • Casot, Salt Lake City, projected opening November
  • The Pearl, Salt Lake City, projected opening December
  • Garage Grill, Herriman, projected opening December
  • The Green Room, Salt Lake City, projected opening February, 2022
  • Proper Brewing Moab Taphouse, Moab, projected opening January 2022
  • Durango Bar, Salt Lake City, projected opening January 2022
  • The Spoke, Moab, projected opening February 2022
  • Edison House, Salt Lake City, projected opening June 2022
  • Bout Time Pub & Grub, Bluffdale, projected opening October 2022
  • Fife Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, projected opening February 2023

Those projected opening dates are important and being put under an increasingly bright spotlight by commissioners. The message has been consistent for months now – only those ready to fling their doors open immediately are likely to win a golden ticket.

The three realistic contenders for the coveted license all put forward their cases. Fenice, now operating on Regent Street were prepared to surrender their full restaurant license in order to convert to a bar. A rep for the Mediterranean restaurant confirmed the business already operates a 21+ policy; but a bar license would allow the location to better serve as a pre and post game spot for the attached Eccles Theatre; under their existing restaurant license patrons can only order drinks, if also ordering food. A restaurant license also comes with the proviso that profits on alcohol sales comprise no more than 30% of the overall makeup. A bar license would allow a more flexible destination for guests, and later service hours too.

Next up, Wasatch Loft & Tap Room Bar in Park City. Another business already open and hoping to secure a dual license – a restaurant downstairs, and a bar upstairs. A spokesperson for Wasatch Loft confirmed a successful license application would not increase the capacity of the business – the upstairs space already being used as an event space or overflow for the restaurant on busier nights. A potential license would help Wasatch alter the use of the space.

And finally – Casot – Scott Evans’ wine bar coming to the 15th and 15th neighborhood; and also the most contentious of the three. On the DABC’s list for months and months, Evans’ application spurred heated debated amongst the commissioners. Some felt Evans’ patience and project (there’s only one other bar in the same zip code) demanded a license. Meanwhile chairman Jacobson led a vocal opposition to Casot’s claim on the license – pointing out the business was still pending final construction work and additional city and code licensing. Jacobson also reminded commissioners the special meeting sought to grant a license to a business – while Evans’ himself confirmed a likely opening for Casot would be (shortly) after the holiday.

Motions were raised, amendments proposed and failed. Tensions were clearly high, and commissioners were notably as frustrated as business owners eager to push their own case.

In the end, the debate went to a straight up vote, with Casot narrowly winning 4-3 for their application. Casot is now newly minted with a bar license and should be swinging their doors open at the very end of November. Wine lovers can expect a cosy space (20-30 seats) centered around a 100+ year old vintage bar – imported from Milan. The bar, a cast off from a failed Larry H Miller project called Cantina, is certain to feature some of the best wines in the state under Evans’ leadership. Expect some stand out natural wine picks – and me bellied up to the bar with toasting their success.

Note: picture above from a previous Evans project, Bar George.

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