Baker’s bid for liquor license denied based on proximity to place of worship

Mar 22, 2024, 2:29 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2024, 12:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A baker is calling for more common sense in state laws after getting rejected in his attempt to secure a liquor license.

According to the owner of Forty Three Bakery, 733 Genesee Ave., state regulators found his business to be too close to a place of worship to sell beer and wine.

The Summum Pyramid, a sanctuary and temple, has been located at the east end of the block since the late 1970s.

“They determined that our front door was 15 feet too close to the property line of a neighbor who is registered as a place of worship,” said owner Andrew Corrao.

Summum Pyramid

The state determined that the Forty Three Bakery was too close to the Summum Pyramid, a place of worship. As a result, the state denied the bakery’s liquor license application. (KSL TV)

Under Utah law, a licensed establishment must be at least 200 feet straight-line distance and 300 feet walking distance from the business’ entrance to the property line of a community location.

Community locations include churches, schools, public libraries, playgrounds and parks.

Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services spokesperson Michelle Schmitt said the bakery’s straight-line distance to the Summum Pyramid’s property was measured at 179 feet using a measurement wheel and 173 feet using a laser pointer, while the walking distance was determined to be 189 feet.

“When it comes to proximity requirements, the law is very clear and inflexible,” Schmitt said in a statement sent to KSL. “The department cannot legally provide alcohol licensing if the business does not meet the proximity requirements.”

According to the department, the Summum Pyramid maintains its own wine manufacturing license along with a special use permit with the Utah DABS for its religious practices.

“They do not sell wine and are only permitted to use it as part of their religious practice,” Schmitt said. “This is similar to other religions that use wine as part of their practice.”

Corrao said he had hoped to sell wine and beer as a way to help his business overcome inflationary costs as well as some challenges with construction.

“The contractors had bounced,” Corrao said. “We’ve been, in the past six months, trying to dig ourselves out of the hole that they put us in. Part of that was the drop-down ceiling—because, again, nothing in government is ever efficient. The process or the time that we went through construction, we had changed inspectors. And one inspector told us one thing and we moved forward with that, and then another inspector came in and said, nope, you have to change it this way. And so that was a $30,000 change that we had not anticipated.”

He said he didn’t believe a matter of several feet made a practical difference in the proximity to the community location at the end of his block.

“It’s frustrating, absolutely,” Corrao said. “It also, to me, is a compounded issue of everything going through this construction process.”

Corrao hoped there might be more common sense to the law in the future.

“It’s utterly dumbfounding to me,” Corrao said. “I don’t understand it.”

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Baker’s bid for liquor license denied based on proximity to place of worship