An Olympia bar known for its upstairs marijuana smoking room has been slapped with a 40-day liquor license suspension after failing to comply with a five-day suspension issued last week.
Frankie’s Bar and Grill won’t be forced to turn off its taps immediately — owner Frank Schnarrs has 20 days to file an appeal with an administrative court, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. Schnarrs said Tuesday that he plans to exercise that right and that he has no intention of shutting down the bar.
The initial five-day suspension was the result of a ticket issued to Frankie’s Bar and Grill in 2015 when the Liquor and Cannabis Board learned that people had been smoking marijuana in an upstairs room of the bar, said Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the state agency. He said that smoking marijuana is forbidden inside a business with an active liquor license.
Schnarrs contested the ticket, but it was upheld by a judge.
From there, Schnarrs had three choices: appeal the decision to Thurston County Superior Court, pay the $500 fine or serve a five-day suspension.
“They didn’t do any of those things, so the suspension became mandatory,” Carpenter said.
But, Frankie’s Bar and Grill didn’t comply with the liquor license suspension. He said that the Liquor and Cannabis Board doesn’t have the authority to issue such a suspension.
“It was kind of ridiculous, the order that I had put on my window,” Schnarrs said. “It didn’t have my business name on it, it didn’t have my address, it didn’t have the RCW.”
He maintains that the upstairs room is a private club, called Friends of Frankie’s, and that the state has no right to restrict consumption of marijuana in a private club.
The five-day liquor license suspension would have lifted Tuesday.
On Friday evening, Schnarrs called The Olympian to say the bar was open. The bar also faxed The Olympian a hand-written page reading, “Frank’s Bar & Grill is OPEN for business w/ a full service bar.”
The fax also included a letter addressed to the Liquor Cannabis Board and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The letter is signed by Honorable Pastor Frank Schnarrs and Micah James Anderson, attorney of fact for Friends of Frankie’s.
The letter orders the Liquor and Cannabis Board to cease and desist all actions on behalf of Washington state, as the agency fails to meet “statutes required by law.”
Dave Olive, who identified himself as one of Schnarrs’ attorneys, said that because the Liquor and Cannabis Board is not licensed and bonded, it has no authority.
“You’re supposed to be licensed, insured and bonded in the state of Washington,” Olive said. “And they have none.”
While both Dave Olive and Micah Anderson identified themselves as Schnarrs’ attorneys, neither is listed as a member of the Washington State Bar Association.
Carpenter said the Liquor and Cannabis Board also learned that Frankie’s wasn’t complying with the suspension and decided to issue a 40-day suspension — 10 days for violation of the original suspension, seven days for a second criminal violation, five days for the original suspension and 18 days for “aggravating conditions.”
Carpenter explained that while liquor license suspensions aren’t uncommon, people tend to follow the rules after their first violation.
“Our goal is to provide education,” Carpenter said. “We want our licensees to be compliant with the rules.”