Mon, Aug 3, 2020

Leaf Nation’s Danielle Halle explores Lowell Farms The Country’s First Recreational Cannabis café

Pulling up to the valet in the West Hollywood parking lot, I half expected to see smoke billowing from the roof of Lowell Farms’ Cannabis Café. We were greeted by young, attractive staff members at every corner as we made our way through the entrance and bar area, where we were led to a lush green patio radiating with the excitement of smoking Cannabis in public. While my friends settled in at our table and began pouring over the 22-day old menus, I pulled aside my friend Koi, who had just clocked in as a flower server for the day.

I had to know, was this place completely full of tourists, or was it mostly Cannabis consumers who knew how to handle themselves? Koi said that, at the moment, it was about 50/50 split, but lots of people who were passing through town and looking for something to do came in to check it out. “I even see some of my old patients from Greenhouse Herbal Center on Hollywood Boulevard,” Koi remarks, telling us that the other half of guests she has seen so far are connoisseurs who have been following the brand for years. Even a few of the more eclectic guests Koi has served have come from the entertainment industry, but I couldn’t pry any celebrities’ names out of her. Girl knows how to keep things on the DL.

Koi and I met while she was working at one of my local Cannabis shops, Leaf and Lion in Long Beach, so I knew she’d have amazing recommendations on Cannabis, but I wanted to test her server knowledge as well. She also has a background in hospitality, which is incredibly important and an asset to those looking to get into any type of guest-facing Cannabis job, such as at a retail location or a consumption lounge. “I always recommend the pulled pork, that’s my favorite,” she proclaims – although the vegan nachos are a widely popular item as well.

Naturally, prerolls are at the top of the list for popular Cannabis menu items, and for first-time smokers, Koi suggests trying the Caliva preroll packs which tested at only 8% THC, to ease into the experience. For those newbies who want to dip their toes into the world of edibles, Koi pointed out the Social Tonic as an excellent option. Containing only 2mg of THC and 4mg of CBD per tonic, Koi notes, “You’re not getting the psychoactive feeling, just a relaxed body high. So, you can enjoy with your friends.”

One of the biggest differences between Lowell Farms Cannabis Café and other restaurants, as observed both by myself and described to me by Koi, is the fact that you have two different servers coming to the table to take separate orders for food and Cannabis. “It’s different because you have a lot more hands-on customer service in that aspect. When was the last time you went to a restaurant and saw ashtrays on the table? Besides the Cannabis, there’s not too many things that make this restaurant different than any others.”

Okay, hold up. Two servers coming to my table? I’ve worked in restaurants before. If there are two servers coming to the table, who gets the tip? Do Cannabis consumers tip well, does anyone tip in weed, and do I pay cash for weed and card for food?! I had so many questions.

Koi explained that the tipping practice in the café hasn’t exactly been standardized.

“I don’t think people understand that we don’t pool tips. So, whatever the flower server gets, that’s theirs to keep. And whatever you leave on the table at the end is going to be for the [food] server. It’s new, so people don’t realize they can tip us too.”

Aside from the confusion on how to tip multiple servers, Koi is excited for the opportunity to be a part of history in the making. She says it’s the best part about working for Lowell Café.

A lot of her coworkers, including herself, commute for at least an hour from all over Southern California to be a part of history.

“West Hollywood traffic is murder anyway, but other than that, I love it here.”

Now I bet you’re wondering what it was like as a guest to experience the history that is Lowell Cannabis Café. My first thoughts upon writing this review were that I knew I had to state the facts.

This may be the first licensed Cannabis café in the U.S., but we can’t talk about making history without going back in history.

Cannabis cafés in Amsterdam have been around for years, but, only in Amsterdam. That’s fair. But, what about the Northwest Cannabis Club in Oregon? Maybe Lowell’s isn’t the ‘first’ Cannabis café, but they’re technically the first legal one. You don’t have to be a member to attend, and there are licensed products from other legal producers available for purchase. The menu and atmosphere is completely cultivated to give you an unforgettable experience and peek into the future of public Cannabis consumption.

Speaking of the menu, I was initially a bit disappointed to find the Lowell Farms Sour Diesel I originally ordered was out of stock, and instead I was presented with a replacement Sour Diesel by a different brand. For the average consumer, I found the Cannabis menu prices to be slightly inaccessible, especially when you include the $30/person fee that you’ll be charged if you decide to bring your own greens to smoke. There were, luckily, plenty of amazing brands to choose from, so bringing your own isn’t really necessary when the menu is packed with high-quality products such as 710 Labs, Space Coyote, Stone Road Farms, Maven, and more. We wanted to be fancy and rent the gravity bong, but it was just slightly out of our millennial budget.

We stuck with our Sour Diesel eighth and were brought complimentary rolling papers and tips, plus a grinder to borrow.

For a swanky Cannabis café in West Hollywood –  an incredible novelty experience – the price is completely justified. Because honestly, where else are you going to be able to have both Cannabis and food delivered to your table and enjoy them together without getting in trouble, or offending the people at the table next to you? Chef Andrea Drummer’s creations are genius, with the vegan nachos starring as the epitome of LA stoner munchies, which has been proven by the orders in the first month that the café has been open.

Although the atmosphere is incredibly relaxed and laid-back, you must realize that visiting the Lowell Café is a luxury treat, one where everyone can feel like they’re having a special experience. I sincerely hope it becomes more accessible for the average Cannabis consumer and patient. For now, I’ll be visiting only if my out-of-town relatives want a truly unique experience and an inside look at California Cannabis culture.

I honestly cannot speak highly enough about the visual experience of both the inside and outside areas of the café. I encourage you to go and see this piece of history for yourself, because no matter what, you’ll leave knowing you just experienced something that people across the country are dreaming of one day being able to do. Those of us in legal states are so incredibly lucky to witness the change firsthand and take part in the molding of our industry and community.