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Smith’s seeking to open tavern in Park City store

A Utah-based grocery store chain plans to stock a new item in its Park City store: beer on tap.

A Utah-based grocery store chain plans to stock a new item in its Park City store: beer on tap.
Adobe Stock

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah-based grocery store chain plans to stock a new item in its Park City store: beer on tap.

Smith’s has applied for a license from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for a 25-seat tavern in the store. Tentative plans call for 16 varieties of craft beers served from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“This is kind of new for Utah. Like Magellan, this is uncharted waters,” Mike Bishop, DABC compliance officer, told the state alcohol commission Tuesday.

The seven-member commission must decide whether to grant Smith’s the license. It put off the decision until its October meeting to allow more time to study the proposal.

“There’s nothing in statute that fully prevents it. The question becomes how do we put fences around it is probably the best way to put it,” said Salvador Petilos, the commission’s executive director.

Commissioners expressed concern about the tavern being accessible to children, customers bringing in beer bought in the store and customers filling growlers — small containers for holding draft beer — and walking around the store.

Steve Sorensen, Smith’s vice president for corporate development, told the commission the store is aware of the challenges and is prepared to meet them. Plans call for 4-foot-high wall around the tavern with a gate to enter. Children, he said, would not have access.

Smith’s has run taverns in its Los Alamos, New Mexico, store the past five years and in Las Vegas the past year without any problems, he said.

Sorensen said the Park City market, with its many out-of-state visitors, is well-suited to an in-store tavern. He said it would be nice to have Utah craft beer on tap for shoppers.

Commissioner Thomas Jacobson, who said he shops at the Park City Smith’s, said he was concerned about the tavern being built next to Starbucks. He said it gets busy in the winter and there would be a lot of children milling around next to the wall.

Petilos said commissioners raised some valid concerns about ensuring minors and people who are already inebriated don’t get alcohol. He said those issues would be looked at and hopefully resolved before the commission meets next month.