Saturday, November 19, 2016

We walk into a Controversial Bar in Utah

Marvel Comics was a big factor in our bar choice this week in a couple of ways. First off, we heard that the bar Brewvies had been in the news over the year. So we looked it up.

Brewvies is a movie theater and a bar. To enter the theater you need to be 21 years old. The day we went, one of the movies was Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, so yeah, you need to have I.D. to prove you’re old enough to see a J. K. Rowling film. Showing I.D. is the law in Utah, because they serve alcohol in the establishment.

Another Utah law says establishments with liquor licenses can’t serve liquor and also show nudity and/or certain sexual acts. Back in February, Brewvies screened Deadpool, which focuses on a Marvel character that has always been quite edgy and meta, and the film is violent and full of sexual innuendo and, well, sex. (I admit I haven’t seen the film, but I went to the parental website Plugged-In, which thoroughly covers the nasty and naughty bits.) Undercover agents went to the movie and thought the movie violated the law. I would think this law was meant for outright live performance and actual pornographic films, but the officers decided this R-rated film violated the law. So the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission tried to revoke Brewvies’ liquor license.

Brewvies scheduled other screenings of Deadpool as fundraisers for legal fees. As of now, Brewvies still has their liquor license, and a trial is scheduled before a judge in May, 2017.

This is not the only strange liquor law in Utah. We heard talk on the radio of “Zion Curtain,” a solid, translucent, permanent divider intended to prevent minors from seeing an alcoholic beverage prepared or poured. Restaurants need to erect barriers to prevent delicate eyes from seeing how gravity acts on liquids when a bottle is upended over a glass.

Of course, no such barrier at Brewvies was needed, because we were all I.D. carrying non-minors who were allowed to watch as the bartender prepared Mindy’s Green Mile (appletini) and pop the lid on my apple cider. Also able to view these things was Jessica, the woman next to us at the bar.

We asked Jessica the two questions we ask every week: “What makes for a good bar?” and “Whether you go or not, what would make for a good church?”

Jessica talked first about the importance of good bartender (we found out later she tends bar herself) for a good bar. She appreciates a bartender who is funny and attentive. She said she also appreciates a “very chill ambience, something on the verge of a dive rather than a club.” She doesn’t like the meat market atmosphere of some clubs, where guys are always hitting on women. “People are more real at a dive bar,” she said. “I’d rather be comfortable and chill” rather than in a club atmosphere.

In response to what makes for a good church, she said feeling welcome and not judged was important. They shouldn’t be asking if you give your ten percent tithe to the church.

She told us she was a Salt Lake City native, so I asked her what that was like. She said growing up as a brown, non-Latter Day Saint girl was hard in a neighborhood where all the other families were LDS. Some kids were told by their parents that they couldn’t play with her, but other families were more welcoming. She said it was hard back then, but things have improved.

She grew up Catholic and recommended a couple of churches for us to visit -- the Newman Center and the Cathedral of Madeleine. One of the things she likes about the Newman Center is that it is near a pizza parlor that July 24th celebrates “Pie and Beer Days.” This is an alternate celebration for non-Mormons while people Latter-day Saints celebrate “Pioneer Days” commemorating Utah’s Mormon settlers. Free pizza and, of course, beer, is part of the less traditional festivities.

We also talked with a couple sitting at the bar, Matt and Allison. Matt’s told us a good bar should be clean and have a fun atmosphere. The staff should be attentive, making sure they take care of customers. (He said churches should be the same.)

Allison said that prices were important as well, exclaiming, “This place has shockingly good prices.” She was also very impressed with the food menu of Brewvies and thought they had quite a good selection for a bar. (While we were talking, their nachos and pizza were served and they did look quite good.)

Matt and Allison had only been to Brewvies once before. The night we met them, they were headed for the 8:00 pm screening of Fantastic Beasts. They had come a couple of nights before for a screening of a friend’s new independently financed film, The Four Corners (they pointed our it should not be confused with the film titled Four Corners without the “The”).

As for what makes for a good church, Allison believed there should be some life to it. She said she grew up in the Mormon Church;  she said she once invited a non-Mormon friend to join her for a service. Her friend asked, “Who died?” She thought the church was trying to be “reverent” but Matt thought “Stuck-up-ism” was a better term for it.

Matt than interjected, “And that’s why we don’t go to church,” though he said he was faithful to “Our Lady of the Fairways, Greens, and Screens” on Sundays.

Before we left, I asked our two questions to one of the bartenders, Nick. He said he thought service at the bar should be attentive and the atmosphere comfortable, “not harassing you or like a biker bar where everyone stares at you when you come in.” As for what would make for a good church, he had one word, “accepting.”

As for the other reason we came to Brewvies, they were showing the newest Marvel film, Dr. Strange and we go with the slogan, “Make Mine Marvel.” We’ll write more about that in next Wednesday’s post at Movie Churches. And if we lived in Salt Lake City, we might also abide by the slogan, “Make Mine Brewvies.”


  1. It was a pleasure meeting you both...and at such a fun bar! Good food, good times!

    1. Yes! Glad you found the post and glad to meet you. Thanks.