Bar in Idaho’s Mormon country makes last call
REXBURG, Idaho (AP) ” They’ll have to cry in their soda pop in this Mormon town from now on.
Miller’s Hideaway is no more, leaving this alcohol-eschewing bastion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without a single watering hole.
Owners Sherrie and Jim Miller said business had run dry by the time the place closed last March ” especially after officers with the Rexburg Police Department targeted patrons leaving the parking lot for frequent traffic stops.
“They didn’t like being watched so close,” Jim Miller told The Associated Press. “A lot of people were being pulled over constantly.”
Police say the Millers’ repeated complaints during their 11 years of operation were unfounded.
“We’ve dealt with them since they opened, accusing us of putting patrol cars out there,” said Capt. Randy Lewis. “We do not randomly stop people.
Whatever happened, it’s part of a trend.
Thirty years ago, locals say, there were five bars.
Now, the closest place to wet your whistle is in St. Anthony, a few miles to the north.
Rexburg, population 43,000, is a college town, but nearly all of the 12,000 students at Brigham Young University-Idaho belong to the Mormon faith.
Coffee, another Mormon no-no, is also a rarity.
Rexburg is the kind of place where ice-cream parlors, not nightlife, are the toast of the town, said Donna Benfield, executive director of the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.
“There are still lots of things to do here,” Benfield told the Idaho Falls Post Register. “The college has an entertainment series that brings in some great groups, we have several very nice restaurants … a huge movie theater, bowling and games for the kids.”
This isn’t the first time alcohol ” and Rexburg’s tradition of temperance ” have affected local commerce.
National chain Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar withdrew plans for a restaurant last summer after running into Rexburg’s 1947 law that prohibits selling liquor by the drink within city limits.
Miller’s Hideaway sold only sold beer and wine. There was also a jukebox with country standards such as Hank Williams Jr.’s “There’s a Tear in My Beer” ” rhymes better than with diet Coke ” pool tables and regular karaoke.
During the early years, the Millers brought in live music. Off-road enthusiasts who ride the nearby St. Anthony Sand Dunes were among the most frequent guests during the summer.
Eventually, though, he says business just tapered off.
Miller says he and his wife felt like they were betraying the few regulars that remained.
“After 10 years, you get close to people,” Miller said.
One bright spot: though the demand for booze is down, the market for property is up.
“We sold the building for over twice what we paid for it,” Jim Miller said.
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