AP NEWS

Utah karaoke lounge asks board for liquor license

March 30, 2019
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In this Tuesday March 26, 2019, photo Liz Adeola sings a song at Heart & Seoul Karaoke in Salt Lake City. The Utah state alcohol commission is deciding whether karaoke can be considered recreation. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah state alcohol commission is deciding whether karaoke can be considered recreation as it evaluates a liquor license request made by a Salt Lake City lounge.

Heart & Seoul Karaoke contends it should be able to get a recreational beer license that allows places such as bowling alleys, golf courses, tennis clubs and billiard halls to serve alcohol.

Heart & Seoul co-owner Brody Horton made his case Tuesday before the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Horton had to convince the board that his company is “substantially similar” to those other recreational activities.

Horton argued that customers of Heart & Seoul, which is patterned after Korean singing rooms, are coming for an activity.

“They’re not paying to drink and also sing karaoke,” Horton said. “They’re not paying to drink and also bowl. They’re not paying to drink and also throw an ax across the room.”

The commission last March approved a beer license for Social Axe under the “substantially similar” clause, making it the first establishment in the state where it’s OK to hurl a sharp blade attached to a wooden handle at a target while drinking alcohol.

“If we can approve axe throwing, karaoke seems safer with alcohol than axes,” said Commissioner Sophia DiCaro. “It looks recreational to me.”

Commissioner Thomas Jacobson told Horton he liked his argument but recreation involved physical activity and karaoke is stationary.

The definition of recreation doesn’t include anything about physical activity, Horton countered. Rather, it’s activity done outside of work, he said.

“I would love to put a heart rate monitor on you for billiards and karaoke and compare the two,” he said.

Jacobson said allowing karaoke would set a precedent for allowing reading clubs seeking alcohol licenses.

“My concern is how far people will take it from here. Where do we go next?” he said.

The license allows only beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight (or 4 percent by volume) to be served. Wine or spirits are forbidden.

The board tabled the request until its meeting next month.