The new Native Roots Summit pot shop in Frisco, Colo. (Rhett Jordan)

Frisco’s famously religious A&W spot now sells pot instead of God, root beer

A former A&W fast food restaurant in Frisco known better for its sign’s religious messaging than its root beer floats is now a recreational marijuana shop.

"Jesus for all! Ice cream floats, Sundaes."
“Jesus for all! Ice cream floats, Sundaes.”

“I went out on the town last night in Breck,” said Native Roots Apothecary owner Rhett Jordan. “We finished a long day of getting the store set up, and then I took our whole Native crew out for dinner. We told some locals about our new shop and one of them said, ‘Thank god!’ Literally.

“Yes, somebody literally said, ‘Thank god.’ I was like, ‘Amen.'”

Donna Drebenstedt owned the Frisco A&W franchise with her husband Reuben, a Messianic Jewish pastor. The restaurant’s sign was long known for its bible verses and other preaching phrases, oddly situated in close proximity to the well-known A&W logo. In 2003, corporate A&W talked with the franchise owners about the placement of their messaging — and they took a break from displaying them.

But then the messaging returned to the famous sign, which was loved by some and hated by others.

The restaurant’s many Yelp reviews tell a story of mixed feelings. “O…M…G! And I really mean the G part! The John 3:16 on the marquee didn’t phase me …” user Kandice T. noted. User Rebecca G. said, “Gospel music and doctrine brochures makes you feel like you’re going to burn in hell.” Yelper Jeff J. wrote, “I should have known better when I saw the marquee say, ‘If you die tonight, Heaven or Hell?’ But the wife really wanted a root beer float, so we went in anyway.’

Another transformation: Once a famous Denver strip club, now a marijuana shop

Jordan received the building’s certificate of occupancy on Monday, and Wednesday’s 4:20 opening will be the beginning of a new era for the odd landmark.

“Once you bring up the Frisco A&W to anyone who’s spent time in Colorado, if they’re religious or not religious, they instantly know what you’re talking about,” Jordan said. “It’s ironic that we took a space that is so iconic for religious statements, something that is known to be this societal eyesore and make it into something that represents a new generation of freedom.

“It represents a transition from religion to free enterprise.”

Frisco’s better-known neighbor Breckenridge was in the news earlier this month for voting against having pot shops on its main street.

Jordan said there will be a second Native Roots Summit opening in Dillon in April 2015.