An Olympia bar that became popular for an upstairs marijuana-smoking room has had it’s liquor tap shut off.
Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill, a two-story establishment at 3663 Pacific Avenue SE, has been suspended from serving liquor for five days, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannibis Board. The suspension ends Tuesday (Aug. 2)
The suspension comes because Frankie’s failed to pay a $500 fine from 2015 for allowing people to consume marijuana on its premises, the board said.
The Liquor and Cannabis Board “violated my constitutional and civil rights by suspending my bar,” owner Frank Schnarrs said. “This is just a scare tactic to get me to stop permitting marijuana upstairs.”
The $500 fine was from February 2015 and stemmed from reports that numbers of people were consuming marijuana on Frankie’s premises, an act the Liquor and Cannabis Board outlawed in 2013.
“This followed with multiple warnings to the bar that smoking marijuana is not allowed on a liquor-licensed premises,” said Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Brian Smith.
Schnarrs argues that patrons of his bar are allowed to smoke marijuana if they use the upstairs “private area” that he established in 2008 after winning a legal battle with the Liquor and Cannabis Board.
In a 2008 letter from the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department, obtained by The Olympian, Schnarrs was conceded the right to a smoking room after inspectors determined that the second floor was “more than 25 feet from entrances, exits, windows and ventilation intakes.”
The bar’s second floor, or “Friends of Frankie’s,” can be accessed for an annual $20 fee, Schnarrs said. Members were permitted to smoke tobacco and drink alcohol — and soon marijuana, after the 2012 passage of I-502, which made it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce.
“Frank was on the news. Everyone wanted to go to Frankie’s,” Smith said. “He was a good story.”
But by 2013, the Liquor and Cannabis Board adopted a rule change that made it illegal for any liquor-licensed establishment to allow marijuana consumption, no matter the layout of the building.
“There is no such thing as a private area when it pertains to alcohol,” Smith said. “If marijuana was permitted in restaurants, everyone would be doing it.”
Schnarrs disputed the 2015 fine and lost in administrative court, Smith said. From there, Schnarrs had until July 18 to pay the $500 or appeal again in Superior Court.
“He did neither of those things,” Smith said. “He lost and chose not to do anything, and that’s why we issued the suspension.”
Schnarrs said he is not finished battling the suspension and will continue the defense of his bar. He believes he was denied due process and will work to continue his operation on his private second floor.