The first cannabis cafe in the United States opened its doors this week, bringing a hint of Amsterdam to Los Angeles along with ambitions to further normalize recreational marijuana in the country.
Located in trendy West Hollywood, Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe offers patrons farm-to-table cuisine inspired to be paired with marijuana the same way a bottle of wine can accompany a meal. Guests for the first time can legally vape, smoke bongs, pre-rolled joints or consume pre-packaged edibles in a public setting.
But cannabis-infused menu options won’t be available due to California regulations. Instead, Lowell Cafe offers “tableside flower service” where a “flower host” will advise guests how to pair marijuana strains with dishes curated towards the heightened effects of THC.
“Each day, we will smell and taste the strains of the cannabis and offer pairings, much as you would do with wine pairings,” head chef Andrea Drummer told Reuters.
The restaurant venture is funded by Lowell Herb Co., a top-selling organic cannabis brand in California that is backed by A-list celebrities Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, and Sarah Silverman. The Hacienda, the parent company of Lowell, also received a strategic investment from premium cannabis retailer MedMen (CSE:MMEN) last year.
Lowell Farms was the first of eight businesses to be granted a cannabis consumption licence by the city of West Hollywood, which saw a total of 300 applicants. The cafe’s opening will offer another channel for sales in the cannabis market beyond dispensaries and online orders.
“A place for public cannabis consumption was a natural next step for Lowell Herb Co. For us, this signifies the real end of cannabis prohibition in California,” Lowell Herb Co. CEO and co-founder David Elias told Forbes.
“This restaurant is a historic moment for the cannabis movement, and in steering the normalization of the plant for the country as a whole. As the first of its kind, we want to make sure we do this right, and set a good example for the industry. We are humbled to be leading the way.”
— Xeni (@xeni) October 1, 2019
California cannabis cafe pots early hype
Reservations for at the 240-seat establishment are already booked more than one month in advance as the hype has been building for the cannabis cafe.
“We have families reaching out wanting to bring their kids or grandparents and high school groups of friends flying from all over the world,” restaurant director Kevin Brady said in a Los Angeles Times interview. “I feel like we’re Disney World.”
The restaurant enterprise cost close to US$3 million to open, and to quell neighbour’s concerns of marijuana odour wafting permeating nearby streets, owner Lowell installed a casino-grade filtration system to keep it in check.
Head chef Drummer has been trained by Michelin star chefs at Le Cordon Bleu, and she also fed the likes of rappers Miguel and Wiz Khalifa THC-infused dishes through Elevation VIP, the cannabis cuusine cooperative she founded in 2012.
Lowell Cafe menu items range in price from US$10 to US$30 and offerings include miso-glazed pork belly, vegan nachos, sticky tamarind wings, house-made pickles, jalapeño mac and cheese bites, and avocado and white bean hummus.
The farm-to-table menu will pair with a high-end marijuana carte du jour including pre-roll joints that start at US$18 with “highly potent THC flowers” ranging from Black Gelato to Kushberry Cheesecake. More advanced canna-users will be invited to the cafe’s sleek Dab Bar to indulge in concentrates and hash that start at $US105.
“Lowell Cafe is a welcoming space for those who are cannabis connoisseurs and those who are canna-curious and looking to experience cannabis in a welcoming atmosphere,” the cafe said in a statement.
The West Hollywood-based cannabis lounge may be the first of many such establishments across the U.S.
In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis signed a bill in May to allow cannabis lounges by early 2020.
Meanwhile, state regulators in Massachusetts approved last week a pilot program to launch cannabis cafes in as many as 12 cities across the state.
— Forbes (@Forbes) October 2, 2019