I don’t know why the nation is preoccupied with fluff like the economy or wars when our very future is being threatened—-by Chili’s, no less. Our youths are probably imperiled by the likes of Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday, too, but they weren’t singled out by the president of Utah’s senate, who wants walls built between restaurants’ bars and the areas used by the public. Otherwise, fears Republican Michael Waddoups, youngsters can see drinks being made! Why not just sit ‘em down and slide a cosmo their way?
In any other state, such a suggestion would be dismissed as outlandish showboating for the fundamentalist right. But not in Utah, where headlines announced yesterday that full-strength beer can now be sold. Because of the Mormon population, drinking can be as contentious there as abortion is elsewhere.
Places that serve liquor already have to isolate drink prep areas with a partition, known locally as a Zion curtain. But it can be a short partition made of glass, which still exposes young people to the glamour of alcohol, in the view of abundant pro-temperance forcese.
Waddoups learned that firsthand when he visited a Chili’s in January, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The paper reported that a bill introduced this week would require the construction of a wall at least 10 feet high between bartenders' work areas and where patrons mill about. It was introduced not by Waddoups but by a fellow Republican, state Sen. John Valentine.
The initiative does provide for an alternative: Mix and pour the drinks away from public view in a back room. Which, in at least some instances, might have to be constructed.
The measure has already been approved by the Senate Business and Labor Committee, according to the Trib.
The proposal to halt public drink preparation was filed as Utah pols were considering a measure that would eliminate the need for even the Zion curtain. Proponents like the governor argue that Utah has to catch up with the times if it wants to foster tourism, and that means loosening up the state’s serving laws. For instance, restaurants’ bars would be acknowledged for what they are, not private clubs nestled check-to-jowl with dining rooms, as the law currently regards them. Visitors wanting a beer would not have to go through the charade of joining a “club.”
The Senate is debating the perils of drinks being mixed in full view after passing a measure Tuesday that permits employees to bring guns into the parking lots of the places where they work.
Seems to me they may want to rethink priorities.