The restaurant business doesn't stand still for long, and Frank's Place is no exception – which is how manager Leslie McCurdy explains its decision to become a non-smoking establishment, while setting aside a special room for patrons who still wish to light up.
“We have chosen to do this on our own. The only complaint we've had over the years is that our bar is too smoky – we're in an older building, so it's been hard to ventilate it appropriately,” said McCurdy. “So we've decided to do this.”
The non-smoking policy and enclosed smoking area took effect on New Year's 2014. Customers who smoke will be able to do so in a well-ventilated, temperature-controlled area that will also feature standup tables and TVs.
As McCurdy explains, the policy change gained momentum about two months ago, when Frank's put out a Facebook poll to customers.
“The response was overwhelmingly positive for pro-non-smoking – there were actually very few people that commented against that decision,” said McCurdy. “But we're accommodating them (smokers), as well. They can go outside, if they want, or feel free to step into our enclosed room.”
With the policy changes comes an opportunity to upgrade other aspects of the Frank's Place experience.
“Over the last several months, we have expanded our beer selection to include over 100 different types of craft beers,” said McCurdy. “That's been a big change for us, as well. We have a complete menu with craft beers from all over the country, and a lot of local ones, too – meaning, from Indiana.”
As an incentive to sample that menu, Frank's offers a “Round the Pub Beer Club” card – which offers prizes for every 25 beers that patrons drink, while those who try all 100 varieties will get their names immortalized on a special wall plaque.
Frank's offers two other punch card programs as part of its “value for money” philosophy – including the VIP Club Card, which gives back $5 for every $100 that customers spend, according to McCurdy. The Lunch Club, as its name suggests, offers the chance to get a seventh lunch free for anyone who buys six of them from Monday through Friday.
Burgers and fish remain the biggest food draws, with pollack being the latest menu addition – alongside bluegill, and tap fish – that patrons can look forward to seeing shortly, McCurdy said.
On the live side of things, Frank's already offers a regular Trivia night at 7 p.m. every Monday – and will announce a second one in January, McCurdy said. Frank's is also considering a return to live music and karaoke, though no firm decisions have been made yet.
“In the past, we've had regular classic rock bands, or karaoke – people seem to like both. We've been known to go with acoustic duos, or things like that,” she said.
All these changes are done with one goal in mind – to preserve the low-key neighborhood vibe that's characterized the Frank's Place experience since it opened in 1976, as McCurdy suggests.
“We're been in business quite a long time, owned by family the whole time – we're proud of the fact that we have many demographics that come to Frank's Place,” said McCurdy. “We have all types of clientele – you can see lawyers, medical office personnel, teachers, students, and employees of Notre Dame. We have a wide cross of people, and they mix pretty well in here.”