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Details on DABC 'Deep Dive'


An interview Tuesday with DABC director Sal Petilos and Kristin Cox, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, gave a deeper look into the recently concluded review of the troubled Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

So far, despite a GRAMA records request by Salt Lake magazine, very little has been made public of the the far-reaching probe into the agency’s operations and work culture. Only a one-page summary of what Cox called a “deep dive” into the DABC’s operations—including interviewing more than 120 DABC employees has surfaced.


Here are some highlights of the interview:

— Gov. Gary Herbert will propose in his state budget a restoration of the $500,000 cut from the DABC last year. He will also ask for additional funding for the agency. “There will be more money in the budget for compensation,” says Cox, and additional money for operations and “more soldiers on the ground, more man-slash-woman power.” Sen. Jerry Stevenson, who will be the Legislature’s point man on alcohol proposals, told Salt Lake magazine that he also supports restoring the cuts and increasing DABC’s budget.

Those expenditures, of course, will have to be approved by the Legislature.

— The controversial policy of putting one manager over two or more liquor stores will NOT be changed, Cox says: “We stand by the position to consolidate positions—but not unless you also change some of the business practices to streamline management. If you free up what managers do, consolidation is sustainable.”

— Managers will have more input into the DABC’s centralized ordering system that many customers say has reduced the selection to mainly “value-priced” wines and liquors. How much say remains to be seen because store managers will have to convince Petilos of the benefit of their change requests.

— Though many DABC employees and critics say real change is impossible as long as Petilos and his regional managers remain in place, Cox says Petilos, at least, will stay on the job. “I have confidence in Sal’s commitment to employees. I don’t question it,” she says. “Sal is sincere.”

— But the open assistant director position, critical to the DABC’s operations, is about to be filled—and Cox says that person should win the trust of the employees. Former Assistant Director Tom Zdunich resigned at the height of the DABC controversy last summer. “Tom’s gone,” Cox says. “Let’s be honest—I don’t know if I agree with everyone—but he was a point of contention. You are going to have someone new in there with a significant impact on operations and culture.”

— The replacement for Zdunich is being vetted by a panel that includes a representative from the restaurant industry (Gastronomy), a DABC Commissioner, a DABC store manager, a member of Cox’s team and Petilos.

Cox says the changes will take time to play out: “You can come back to us in three months and we can show you some outcomes.”

Even in the exploration boom of the 1800s, nobody dared to explore the terrain flowing through the Green and the Colorado Rivers.⁠

That is, nobody until Major John W. Powell said the 19th Century equivalent of “Hey man, hold my beer while I try this.”⁠

Read more about his dangerous expedition at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo of Powell’s expedition courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division⁠

A brand new issue of Salt Lake magazine is coming your way! ⁠

We can't wait to share these stories with you. This issue includes our annual Blue Plate Awards celebrating those surviving and thriving in the restaurant biz. Plus, we take a road trip to Wyoming and ask why the only Utah passenger on the Titanic didn’t survive her journey.⁠

A note from our editor Jeremy Pugh, including beautiful tributes to Mary Brown Malouf from our friends in the community, is online now. Read more at the link in our bio ❤️⁠

Subscribers: Look for this issue in your mailbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands March 1! 📬

Today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Blue Plate Awards! ⁠🎉⁠

These prizes honor the growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs who do more than put good food on the table—they make our community a better place to live. This year, just surviving as a local business deserves an award, but each of our Blue Plate winners did more than that. They made us grateful for every person involved in the essential act of feeding us.⁠ 🍽⁠

At the link in our bio, we have the full list of winners, a celebration of feats of COVID creativity and a tribute to restaurants we lost this year. If you’re hungry for more, pick up a copy on newsstands March 1! Plus, check out our Instagram for spotlights on some of the Blue Plate winners. ⁠

This year’s Blue Plate Awards are the first without our beloved Executive Editor Mary Brown Malouf. We dedicate them to her, our town’s biggest food fan, critic and champion. xoxomm⁠ 💙

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @ricobrandut for Staying in Beansness⁠

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove and now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.” 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award Winner: @spicekitchenincubator for Keeping the Spice Flowing⁠

This year Spice Kitchen Incubator, already an essential resource for refugees, became, well, even more essential. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @thestore_utah for Special Deliveries ⁠

As grocery delivery becomes the new norm, The Store offers a personal touch that only an independent grocer can provide. Last March, high-risk and elderly customers began calling in their grocery lists over the phone, and The Store’s general managers personally delivered food to their homes. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @cucinaslc for Preserving Neighborhood Connection⁠

Cucina’s outdoor spaces became a place where the neighborhood could gather safely. Owner Dean Pierose offered free coffee in the mornings and encouraged his regulars to linger and commiserate together, preserving a semblance of society during a socially distanced time. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @oquirrhslc for Betting the Bottom Dollar⁠

When COVID-19 hit Salt Lake City, Oquirrh co-owners Andrew and Angelena Fullers' dream was seriously damaged. But the Fullers keep trying to follow the rules. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @hearth_and_hill for Opening Doors⁠

As the pandemic ravages independent restaurants, Hearth and Hill has reaffirmed its commitment to small businesses in Park City and used its large dining room as an informal gathering space for the city. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @fisherbrewing for Creative Canning⁠

This year, Fisher found ways to utilize their beer, taproom space and canning capabilities for good. They created special lines of limited edition beers in custom cans to help raise funds for local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic. 💙⁠

A wind storm #tbt for your feed today. 🌬️🛹⁠

2020 was a long, long, loooong year, so we asked local photographers to share what the new normal looked like through their eyes. The link is in our bio!

Just hours after being sworn in, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for a review of the boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The monuments—designated by Barack Obama in 2016 and Bill Clinton in 1996—were reduced by roughly 2 million acres by former president Donald Trump, and the executive order is seen as move towards restoring the original boundaries.⁠

Read the full story through the link in bio.⁠

📸Bears Ears National Monument: Courtesy of Utah Office of Tourism

What’s your favorite park in Utah? ...