Frank Schnarr, Frankie’s Bar & Grill: “To bring in another type of person to come in my establishment is a plus for me”
Things are changing in Washington state now that residents voted last month to legalize marijuana. As of Thursday, Washingtonians can smoke weed in the privacy of their own homes. And now, Frankie’s Bar & Grill in the capital city of Olympia has invited pot smokers to toke up there.
Owner Frank Schnarr, 62, said he hasn’t smoked any marijuana since he fought in Vietnam in the 1970s, but he could sure use the extra income. “I’m about to lose my business,” he told Jonathan Kaminsky of Reuters. “So I’ve got to figure out some way to get people in here.”
“To bring in another type of person to come in my establishment is a plus for me,” Schnarr told MyNorthwest.com.
A Frankie’s Bar & Grill Patron smokes weed in the “Friends of Frankie” room
Schnarr already fought state regulators in 2006 and won over allowing customers access to an upstairs closed-in smoking area more than 25 feet away from the entrances to his downstairs bar, reports The Associated Press. Customers pay $10 a year for the privilege of smoking tobacco in the “Friends of Frankie” room, reports Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story. Alcohol is also served in the room by a staff of volunteers, paid by tips.
Schnarr said he’s now welcoming cannabis smokers in the room, as well, saying it will bring new revenue. “Friends of Frankie” already has more than 10,000 tobacco-smoking members, with more than 40 joining in the two days since he announced that marijuana would also be allowed.
To appeal to his expected new weed-toking clientele, Schnarr has introduced a new $4.20 appetizer menu, including breaded shrimp, breaded cheese sticks and breaded mushrooms. He’s also considering opening a medical marijuana dispensary nearby.
Olympia City Manager Steve Hall said the city is not sure if any action will be taken against Frankie’s Bar & Grill, saying the new law is “unclear” on such matters. “We’re looking into it,” said Tom Morrill, Olympia’s city attorney. “That’s all I can say.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Liquor Control Board, which was handed the responsibility of overseeing the state’s marijuana business and seems rather unclear on what the hell to do about that, was also noncommittal and eager to pass the buck.
“The board is weighing its options with regard to Frankie’s,” said Liquor Control Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter. “It’s not prefectly crystal clear as to who this falls to.” Carpenter said he knows of no other bar in the state that allows pot smoking.
Frankie’s Bar & Grill patron Stephen Goodrum: “Free at last!”
“Frank’s ahead of the curve on (allowing marijuana use),” said his lawyer, Shawn Newman. “A lot of other taverns, bars and restaurants would like to do this, but they didn’t have enough chutzpah to fight the smoking ban so they’re locked into non-smoking operations.”
Washington’s I-502, which was approved by voters on November 6 and went into effect on December 6, bans “public” consumption of marijuana.
And, of course, federal law hasn’t changed a bit.
“Marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. “I can’t tell you whether what he’s doing is legal or not.”
Several patrons were seen smoking marijuana in the “Friends of Frankie” room on Friday. “Free at last,” said patron Stephen Goodrum after taking a drag off his pipe, reports ATLNightSpots.com.