A Price bar owner had his license to serve alcoholic beverages revoked during a July 31 meeting of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
Paul D’Ambrosio, owner of the Savoy Club, 81 W. Main St., was forced to close his doors for non-compliance with a new state law that requires managers at retail alcohol establishments to attend a mandatory manager training class.
When D’ Ambrosio sought to renew his license earlier this year, he was informed that he must also attend the $25 class by June 22, according to DABC commission meeting minutes and agency records.
The mandatory class is part of a law, House Bill 442, passed by the state legislature in 2017 and made effective January 2018.
D’Ambrosio signed up for the class but never attended, according to Robert Hansen, a DABC license and compliance specialist.
The Savoy Club was not the only bar shut down for non-compliance. The commission also revoked the retail license for Circle Lounge in Salt Lake city for the same reason—its owner operator also refused to take the required class.
D’Ambrosio made matters worse for his business when he failed to comply with a commission order to show cause, requiring him to attend the July 31 commission meeting if he wished to keep his bar open.
“I am really disappointed that they are not here. If something is at the core of your business, I think you would take care of and you would make that a priority,” said one DABC commissioner during last month’s hearing. “But when we have no communication from them and they’ve been invited to attend these classes and they haven’t done it, I feel sort of like they don’t think that the commission is a serious thing for them to be concerned about and that compliance with the law is not a serious thing they should be concerned about. As much as I probably would have felt a little different yesterday, I would be in a position where I would want to move to revoke these licenses.”
The commissioner—the Sun Advocate was only able to obtain a recording of the commission meeting and was unable to identify the specific commissioner by name—then moved to revoke the Savoy Club owner’s license.
The commission voted 4-2 to revoke both bars’ licenses.
The revocations are effective immediately and remain in effect for three years. After that time period the bar owners may reapply for a license.
The Sun Advocate was unable to reach D’Ambrosio for comment through a family member on Wednesday.
Another local bar owner, who said he volunteered to take D’Ambrosio to the class earlier this summer, was not happy the missed class led to the license revocation. This person, who asked not to be named for this report, said the manager training class also seemed to him to be a bid by the state to gain additional revenue from bar owners, not to educate them on anything particularly new. Almost none of the material covered in the class, this person said, seemed different than what bar owners are already required to know in order to stay in business.
H.B. 442 did tighten certain rules for alcohol-serving establishments. For instance, the law reduced the proximity of a restaurant serving alcohol to a community location, such as a church, school or community center. It also reduced the authority of the DABC to make any variances to these proximity rules. The law also changed the monetary calculation of the money earned from the sale of a glass or bottle of wine as a percentage of a restaurant’s gross receipts, among numerous smaller changes, including ordering the legislature’s attorney to review DABC’s compliance rulings every three years to make sure the agency is following the law.
Terry Wood, a spokesperson for DABC, said the agency works closely with bar owners and hates to ever see any of them lose their license to operate.
He said at least 22 of the mandatory manager training classes have been held across the state since January 1.
DABC Commission Chair John T. Nielsen said the revocations should make prospective bar owners happy. New applicants for retail licenses must wait in a pool for new licenses to open up before they can gain one.
“Sorry about that,” Nielsen said after the revocation vote was taken. “Are those bar licenses? So we have a couple of more in the pool. You who are here for bar licenses are going to love that.”