Pat McBride: From '60s Rock Star to '20s Pot Shop Designer

Pat McBride today (left) and with New Colony Six in the mid-’60s

Pat McBride started his career performing with the Chicago-based soft-rock band, New Colony Six. They had several hits, including "Things I'd Like to Say" (No. 16, 1968, watch below) and "I Will Always Think About You" (No. 22, 1968). 

Today, he's a successful designer who's firm The McBride Company is responsible for Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant chain and many other retail designs, including the Grass Monkey dispensary in South Portland, Maine. 

McBride explained his career path in 2016: “Originally I was a part of the rock band, New Colony Six. We were fortunate enough to have a couple of top records in the country. I expanded from there into producing records for rock bands and children’s records, and I got to work with some truly amazing people. I eventually started producing music and sound effects for entertainment venues. Even though I was just doing the music for these companies or brands, I would talk about ideas for attractions, or how a museum exhibit needed to be more dynamic and exciting. Suddenly, I had a reputation as a designer, even though I had no academic background or experience in design. I responded to this reputation by forming a design firm, The McBride Company. After a few homegrown projects in the beginning, we’ve had great opportunities to spread our wings into all different areas of entertainment, retail and hospitality.

Pat McBride: "We didn’t want to be doing what the existing few dispensaries that had opened at the time had done. They were actually sort of anti-cannabis in their atmosphere.”

"When we started working with clients like Margaritaville and Hard Rock Café, I think they felt that we ‘got it.’ We understood their customers; we understood why they were doing what they were doing. And most importantly, we were going to work with them to enhance the experience they offer their customers. Some other design firms believe they need to make their own statement. That often fights against what makes the brand succeed. Our goal at McBride is always to appeal to the end user by delivering a creative experience.”

Grass Monkey Cannabis Company at 85 Western Ave. in South Portland, Maine.

Take Grass Monkey, for example. The store is packed with jungle imagery, from the oversized banana in the lobby to large flora and ape sculptures. McBride's company is currently working on designs for Coral Reefer and Root'd stores from Florida to Oakland.

A classic rocker, McBride takes doesn't care for some of the store designs that have become popular in cannabis retail. 

“The initial dispensaries looked more like a pharmacy or GNC or an Apple store," he tells Fast Company. "The connection to the history, the music and the story of cannabis was basically eliminated. We didn’t want to be doing what the existing few dispensaries that had opened at the time had done. They were actually sort of anti-cannabis in their atmosphere.”

McBride would appear to be referring to MedMen stores and their "Forget Stoner" campaign, among others.

After all these years, Pat McBride still has things he'd like to say.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.