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Frankie’s bar owner loses liquor license on air with Dori Monson

Frankie Schnarr updated his bar's reader board with a tribute to Dori Monson, after a liquor control officer said he didn't know who Dori is. (Frankie Schnarr)
LISTEN: Frankies bar owner loses liquor license on air with Dori Monson

Dori Monson was just starting an interview with Frankie’s bar owner Frankie Schnarrs when they were interrupted by the law.

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State liquor control officers entered Frankie’s, located in Olympia, to inform him that they were suspending his license. And it all went on the air. Frankie even tried to put the officer on the phone with Dori.

“It’s Dori Monson,” Schnarrs said.

“Yeah, I don’t know who that is,” the officer replied.

And that’s when the officers issued another liquor license suspension. Schnarrs was already under one liquor violation for allowing people to smoke marijuana in his private club that also serves alcohol. He didn’t comply. So the officers told him that he will be placed on a 40-day suspension — from Sept. 16 to Oct. 26. He can challenge the suspension. Instead, he’s going to sue — the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Gov. Inslee and the officers who issued the suspensions, he said.

“These guys came down from Tacoma because the Olympia enforcement officers refused to come in here,” Schnarrs told Dori. “They brought these Gestapo guys down … it’s so sad. There’s supposed to be freedom of choice. And it’s being taken away from us.”

One building, two Frankie’s

The issue around Frankie’s, the bar, and marijuana is basically this: There’s Frankie’s Sport Bar downstairs, but upstairs there is a separate, private club called Friends of Frankie’s. The latter is a private club where members can smoke tobacco, and more.

Friends of Frankie’s began when Washington banned smoking in bars. So the owner went around the law by creating private club upstairs. Schnarr argues that in Washington, private clubs are not required to have licenses to sell alcohol. It’s in that private club that he allows marijuana to be consumed. And it’s the private club that the liquor license suspension is being issued — not for the sports bar.

“They can take my liquor license and shove it,” Schnarrs said. “They can’t take it downstairs. I’m not violating the law downstairs. There’s no smoking downstairs. There’s no marijuana downstairs.

“Private clubs do not need a license in order to sell alcohol,” he added. “They can’t grasp that for some reason.”

Schnarr’s said that the officers didn’t get a court order to enforce the suspension. He argues that’s because no judge will issue one — he already went through a legal case in 2006 over cigarette smoking. The case resulted in the formation Friends of Frankie’s.

Schnarr said everything about Friends of Frankie’s is legal and if they try to go after his other bar, then he’ll double down.

“That’s OK. I’ll make my whole building private,” he said. “The whole building will be Friends of Frankie’s.”

Why is he fighting?

Schnarrs cited a couple reasons for his fight over marijuana, smoking, and more.

“I fought for my country,” Schnarrs said. “I believe in the United States. I believe in the freedom of choice and people gathering in a place where the government can’t interfere with you. That’s called a private club. I made a private club.”

That … and his wife.

“I’m 66 years old,” he said. “I have a lot of health problems. And all I’m doing is protecting my wife’s interests. When I’m gone, this will all belong to her.

“Nothing will ever come between me and my wife,” he added.

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