Utah regulators halt 'educational' liquor permits

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah regulators believe a special type of liquor license for educational purposes is being abused, and they've stopped issuing them.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission put a hold Tuesday on educational liquor licenses.

Commissioners called the time-out for a month or two to develop a set of ground rules for the permits.

"We won't consider any new applicants until we adopt the new rules," said Board Chairman David Gladwell, according to The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1dOn1ZO).

The permits were meant for culinary schools, and for restaurants and grocery stores that offer wine tastings.

But more businesses outside the food industry are taking out the permits — including painting studios that serve wine to patrons.

One studio explained how it works to The Associated Press.

"We give them 2 ounces of wine for the first pour, then offer them a different wine," Candice Vasher, an owner of Painting with a Twist in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray, said Wednesday.

With each glass of wine the studio sells, Vasher says it offers customers a different handout on the art of wine-making.

"As soon as they buy their wine, we say, 'Here's a little education for you,'" Vasher said.

Painting with a Twist isn't the only Utah art studio with a liquor license. The Tribune reported that Paint Mixer operates in Park City and the Salt Lake City neighborhood of Sugar House.

The liquor commission said it wanted to govern the size of drinks being offered and training for servers, among other rules.

It wants to put permit applicants through a qualifying test to make certain their educational purposes are legitimate.

Regulators also want to mandate liability insurance for permit holders, and set setback rules from schools and churches.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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