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Utah Lowers the "Zion Curtain"

Hot & Cool Trends

By Cari Martens

Patrons at Utah restaurants may now receive their alcoholic beverages right across the counter of the bar, under a new law passed this month. Previously, bartenders had to walk around the bar to hand over the drinks.

Partitions, usually made of glass and known as ‘Zion Curtains,’ separated the bartender from the customers. The partitions were so-named because of the state’s heritage as home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which requires its members to refrain from drinking alcohol.

Republican Governor Jon Huntsman had campaigned to relax some of Utah’s famously strict liquor laws to spur economic development in the state.

Under the new law, customers still cannot order alcohol unless they also order food. Existing restaurants can remove the partition, but in a potentially confusing quirk, newly-built restaurants must prepare all alcoholic drinks somewhere out of the view of patrons. This is intended to prevent children from being enticed to consume alcoholic beverages.

The Utah Restaurant Association warned that many national chains might decide not to build in the state as a result of this provision. Gov. Huntsman has vowed to re-examine the situation.

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