Bar Owners Sue Over 10 p.m. Alcohol Ban

Dec 10, 2020, 11:55 PM | Updated: 11:55 pm

SANDY, Utah – Bar owners filed a lawsuit Thursday over the state’s health order that bans serving alcohol after 10 p.m.

Last week bar owners sent a letter to the governor saying they were “on the verge of economic ruin” as a direct result of the “unreasonable restriction.”

“We understand we need to help everybody out and be part of the solution,” said Jesse Valdez, owner of Club 90. “You gave us rules, we followed these rules. And then for some reason, you just decided that wasn’t enough.”

Club 90 is one of 10 plaintiffs listed on Thursday’s lawsuit filed in Utah’s 3rd District Court, “who are struggling to or who can no longer pay their employees, rent, mortgages, insurance premiums and are on the verge of losing their businesses as a direct result of this restriction,” according to the lawsuit.

Governor Gary Herbert and Richard Saunders, interim director of the Utah Department of Health, are named as defendants.

At Club 90 in Sandy, people come for the food and entertainment. But most of all, they come for the drinks.

“That’s how we make our money,” Valdez said.

Money has been tight this year for owner Jesse Valdez. But even with just 40% of the revenue his business is used to, Valdez said he thought they would be able to make it.

“Until this new 10 o’clock rule came along,” he said. “By stopping the alcohol sales, it just took the feet out from under us.”

The Utah Department of Health included the restriction in a health order that aims to curb the spread of COVID-19. It bans serving alcohol after 10 p.m. and went into effect last month.

This week, state health officials extended that order in areas of high transmission.

“We’re not asking for a handout,” Valdez said of the lawsuit. “We’re saying, ‘Let us fight for our businesses. Give us a chance.’”

Now even with a vaccine rollout in the coming months, Valdez said he doesn’t know what the coming months may serve to Club 90.

“Before the 10 o’clock rule I at least could believe I had a chance to make it,” Valdez said. “And right now, it’s more of a how long can I make it?”

Officials with the Utah Department of Health had not responded to a request for comment by Thursday night. The governor’s office said it does not comment on ongoing or pending litigation.

The lawsuit also comes as the Salt Lake Chamber and others call on state leaders to use some of the remaining CARES Act funds, which need to be spent by the end of the year, on struggling businesses in the hospitality industry.

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Bar Owners Sue Over 10 p.m. Alcohol Ban