The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services determined last week that the World Famous Woody’s Tavern could keep its bar establishment license after a code violation this summer threatened it.
“How do I feel?” said Shari Beck, owner of Woody’s. “Like it’s not real. In all my years of dealing with the DABS Commission, I’ve never seen them walk away.”
In July, Woody’s stayed closed for over ten days without notifying DABS, a violation that, by the book, results in an automatic forfeiture of the retail license. Beck said she didn’t know the rule was ten days—she thought it was 14—and plus, the week of the closure, the bar faced a slew of issues that prevented it from opening.
In early November, Beck received a notice from DABS that she broke the rule and would be expected at a public hearing at the November commission meeting, where she could possibly lose the bar license.
Beck made a poster that she posted around town, asking people to contact Gov. Spencer Cox and Tiffany Clason, the director of DABS; the poster also asked people to attend the public hearing if they were able. The community quickly came together to show support for Woody’s: a petition on change.org, “Save Woody’s Tavern,” received over 1,700 signatures.
Last week, the bar received another notice from DABS: because Beck provided public notice of the closure and didn’t conceal it, the department “chooses to exercise its discretion and withdraw the Order to Show Cause,” the notice said.
“This decision has been communicated to the commission and the matter has been removed from the agenda and from consideration by the commission,” it said.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Clason sent a letter to DABS Commissioners on Nov. 22 that DABS was dropping its action against Woody’s. Dropping the case “is in the best interest of the department and Utah residents whom we serve,” she wrote, a decision that was made after “much deliberation and in consultation with the governor.”
In a statement to the Tribune, Gov. Spencer Cox said: “Sometimes government needs a little common sense.”
“This would’ve never happened without the support of all the people,” Beck said. “We had thousands of signatures on the petitions, countless letters, texts, and emails. All of our local businesses, the city council, the county commission, and most importantly, the average Joe, all came together to save the tavern.”
The penalty for the code violation was downgraded from license forfeiture to a fine and five-day closure: Woody’s will be closed from Dec. 8 through the 13.
“I will be forever thankful and humbled,” Beck said. “We are very blessed to live in such a caring community … We will survive.”