Utah Drinkers Celebrate Fall of the Zion Curtain

Adults can now watch their drinks being mixed and poured
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2017 6:34 PM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2017 12:16 PM CDT
Utah Drinkers Celebrate Fall of the Zion Curtain
Mark Sylvester takes down a partition known as a "Zion Curtain" that prevent customers from seeing their alcoholic drinks being mixed and poured in Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Mister bartender, tear down this wall. NPR reports Utah's "Zion Curtain" law is officially history as new alcohol reform legislation passed in March took effect Saturday. The old Zion Curtain law forced restaurants to erect partitions to block customers from seeing their drinks being poured or mixed and to protect children from seeing how cool bartending is. In heavily Mormon Utah, even restaurants that only served beer had to put up barriers, according to Smithsonian. Restaurants complained that such barriers were unsightly and didn't even prevent children from seeing alcohol being consumed, the AP reports. Restaurant owner Joel LaSalle tells NPR the law "probably cost us $350,000 in sales" over the past two years because "people didn't want to ... face a frosted glass wall instead of a bartender."

LaSalle's was one of the first restaurants to have their partition removed, smashing the frosted glass and celebrating what he calls a "hallelujah moment" with champagne. The Salt Lake Tribune reports dozens more restaurants are in the process of having their barriers removed—pending approval by the state. Restaurants now have a choice: stick with the Zion Curtain partition, keep minors 10 feet away from where liquor is poured, or erect a partial wall or railing separating the dining area and bar area. But it's not all good news for Utah's drinkers. The new law also increases the markup on liquor, wine, and some beers by about 2%. (Two Utah towns make this list of America's 10 least boozy cities.)

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