Times have been tough for small businesses all across Washington State. In Olympia, Frank Schnarr, owner of Frankie's Sports Bar & Grill, used to lie in bed awake at nights wondering how much longer he would be able to keep his bar open. On the verge of losing his business, Schnarr now sees a new opportunity in the wake of I-502.
Schnarr allows cigarette smoking on the second floor of his business, thanks to a loophole in the law. In 2006, Washington banned cigarette smoking in all public establishments. Schnarr turned his second floor into a private clubhouse, circumventing the law. It costs $10/year to enroll with "Friends of Frankie's," which entitles you to alcoholic beverages served by a volunteer staff (they work solely on tips).
Schnarr is not a pot-smoker himself. But he doesn't hold it against anyone. And as of this week, Schnarr is allowing marijuana to be smoked upstairs along with cigarettes. He has already seen an uptick in business, and he predicts a great deal more as word spreads.
Frankie's Sports Bar is even offering daily specials to help draw in the marijuana smoking crowd. (Which, in a college town famed for its liberal hippie college [which I attended myself for two years before transferring to UW], is a substantial crowd indeed, trust me.) Schnarr is offering a special $4.20 appetizer menu, featuring deep fried cheese sticks, shrimp and breaded mushrooms.
Schnarr is also looking into the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary on the adjacent property. If he is lucky, the state Liquor Control Board will open a recreational marijuana store nearby. Unfortunately, the new law requires all pot to be sold through a state owned storefront, which means that Schnarr will not be able to sell marijuana directly. Nor will his customers be able to sell to each other.
"If I wasn't a friend of Frankie's already I'd be one now because you can come here and smoke and feel free," said one patron, who equated Frankie's to a little taste of Amsterdam right in Olympia.
The Liquor Control Board is reportedly looking into the legality of Frankie's Sports Bar and Grill's new marijuana policy. But if Schnarr was able to successfully circumvent the cigarette smoking ban, there seems to be no reason to think he won't be able to allow his patrons to smoke pot as well. The marijuana-related small business revolution continues!