It’s not easy shaking off Gov. Jay Inslee’s ban on live entertainment if you own a venue in Washington. Adam Norwest, who is the president of the Spokane Comedy Club, is doing what he can to keep the venue afloat after five dormant months courtesy of the novel coronavirus.
Norwest, who also owns comedy clubs in Tacoma, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, has decided to make milkshakes at the Spokane Comedy Club, aka Spokane Shake Co., until humorists are allowed to perform again at his Sprague Avenue venue.
“I’m telling people to buy a shake to save the arts,” Norwest said, while calling from his Tacoma home. “I don’t know how long this situation will last, but we have to do something to keep this club going. Who knows when we’ll be allowed to have live comedy again?”
It’s frustrating for Norwest since his clubs in Oklahoma City, the Bricktown Comedy Club, and Appleton, the Skyline Comedy Club, are open and thriving.
“Those clubs are really doing well, and the employees are doing what they have to do,” Norwest said. “The staff is wearing masks. The comics are performing, and the fans who are coming out are happy.”
Washington state rules are different from Oklahoma and Wisconsin, which allow Norwest to operate at full capacity – 165 in Oklahoma City and 275 in Appleton. “But I only go to 75% since I’m not trying to push it. I just wish we could operate at some capacity for the comedy club in Spokane and Tacoma, but the state has its regulations.
“I just don’t understand why a restaurant can have 75 people, but a comedy club can’t have the same number of patrons with a comedian performing. Since we can’t have comedy, we have to do something.”
The Tacoma Comedy Club, which is now the Tacoma Burger Co., is featuring one of America’s most popular sandwiches.
“The burgers are going well, but we can’t do the same in Spokane because of the kitchen,” Norwest said. “So we went in another direction. Who doesn’t love shakes?”
Norwest was inspired by his favorite hangout in San Diego, the Milk Bar, which features an exotic array of shakes.
“A lot of places offer fairly ordinary shakes using ordinary ice cream, which is fine,” Norwest said. “But I want to offer a variety of shakes that are unique and of a higher quality.”
The shakes, which debut Saturday, are made with Tillamook ice cream.
“We want to keep it Northwest,” Norwest said.
The concoctions are funky. There are a number of alcoholic shakes, such as the Drunken Peanut Butter Cup, which is comprised of chocolate ice cream and peanut butter whiskey. There’s the Fred Flintstone with Fruity Pebbles, vanilla ice cream and vanilla vodka.
For those who will pass on the boozy shakes, there are a variety of offerings such as strawberry, huckleberry and cereal and candy blends.
It can be more than a dessert experience.
“We’re encouraging people to be socially distant and dine with us,” Norwest said.
Patrons can start with hot dogs or pizza and work their way up to the shakes.
“Whatever works for people is good with me,” Norwest said. “We’re trying to bridge the gap and keep this going until we can get back to normal business.”
Fifteen employees will return to work this weekend at the Spokane Comedy Club.
“That’s what excites me the most,” Norwest said. “I’m so happy to put people to work again and open our doors. I’m optimistic. Our Tacoma club opened Aug. 7 and has done really well. People love shakes, so I’m confident our shakes will win them over.”
Norwest can’t help but think about what’s ahead for the venue as a comedy club. “It keeps running through my mind,” Norwest said.
“Maybe we can be back in December at 25% capacity. Who knows? That’s just a guess. I’m just hoping something can happen. This way of life can’t last forever. We’ll be back someday.
“Shakes will hopefully keep it going for us. We’ll see how it goes.”
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