Category: Lounges

story pitch: Sideways by the Sea: Wine and Weed Flood Lompoc, California’s Formerly Sober Flower Seed Capital

Pitch for story to publish December 2019

By Ed Murrieta

LOMPOC, Calif. — Founded in 1888 as a temperance colony, this bucolic bedroom community of 40,000 people, two federal penitentiaries and a U.S. Air Force missile launch base three hours north of Los Angeles is an oasis of agriculture, viticulture and tourism popularized by a Hollywood movie about wine and is the most cannabis-friendly city in Santa Barbara County, the home to the second-largest concentration of cannabis cultivation licenses in America after world-famous Humboldt. 

In and around Lompoc — rhymes with somm toke — grapes and cannabis flood the terra, from the gracefully transversing hills on the Pacific-kissed central coast where vineyards of pinot noir and hoop houses of primo pot grow side by side to the quaint downtown streets where half a dozen cannabis stores and Santa Barbara County’s first consumption lounge have opened this year near a cluster of more than 20 wineries and tasting rooms branded The Lompoc Wine Ghetto. 

Can these two intoxicating crops and lifestyles indulgences coexist and revive a local economy wilted by a global flower market and scuttled space shuttles? 

While cannabis cultivation odors are causing a stink elsewhere on the West Coast’s wine-and-weed landscape — in Oregon, a federal judge recently ruled a grape grower may sue a cannabis grower for allegedly tainting and devaluing its crops — Santa Barbara County cannabis farmers are working with farmers of grapes, flowers and vegetables to be good ag neighbors while attracting and serving overlapping clientele with discretionary incomes and tastes for local products and unique experiences. 

Neighborly aroma-remediation efforts in Santa Barbara County include growing cannabis strains that smell more like fruit and less like skunk; freezing freshly harvested flowers so they don’t emit aromas that occur during traditional drying processes; and, like vintners do with grapes, adding value and creating artisanal products that showcase local crops — in this case, live resin cannabis oil concentrates, premium pot’s equivalent of fine wine.

Three cannabis stores opened in Lompoc before the first cannabis store opened in Santa Barbara, the county’s seat and largest city. Meanwhile, eight more cannabis stores are licensed and on the way in Lompoc, along with more consumption lounges that will offer buy-and-try retailing vs. wine rooms’ try-and-buy tastings.  

Restaurants have opened. 

Food trucks have arrived. 

Lompoc’s mayor wants to create a cannabis district with a Wine Ghetto presence.

A summertime event is taking root to celebrate local agriculture, from sweet pea seeds to alyssum and delphinium flowers to broccoli and berries to grapes and cannabis. 

This former flower seed capital of the world that was founded on an anti-intoxication ethos awaits its “Sideways” cannabis moment, a tokable toast that’ll heighten the stature of Santa Barbara County weed like the buddy-movie oeno ode elevated Santa Barbara County wine 15 years ago. 

story pitch: Ex-Restaurant Critic/Current Cannabis Journalist Reviews Cannabis Restaurant

The world’s first licensed and legal restaurant serving both food and cannabis is open. As a former restaurant critic and current cannabis journalist, I’m uniquely qualified to review it. Here’s my preview:

By Ed Murrieta

The world’s first restaurant selling and serving food and cannabis is open for business. 

Good luck snagging a reservation. 

Lowell Cafe opened in West Hollywood Sept. 24, serving farm-to-fork cuisine and premium California-grown cannabis in a full-service restaurant, retail and lounge environment featuring sommeliers on hand to advise diners on food and cannabis pairings and table-side rollers to ensure the joints you smoke are prepared as well the food you eat.  

A quick caveat about Lowell Cafe’s food: Chef Andrea Drummer’s contemporary California menu contains no cannabis but is loaded flavors that complement and pair with herbal, fruit and earthy flavors in the flower. 

Lowell Cafe also downplays edibles, offering them for sale while advising customers that edibles are best enjoyed by experienced consumers who can tolerate their delayed and potent effects. 

Lowell Cafe emphasizes the enjoyment of cannabis with meals the way people enjoy wine and beer with meals and allows smoking and vaping throughout the restaurant and bar, which serves only non-alcoholic beverages. 

Sommeliers work the dining areas helping, diners choose the best flowers and concentrates to enjoy with Drummer’s fried chicken sandwich, peaches and burrata or sweet potato beignets.

Not only can adults purchase and consume cannabis while also purchasing and consuming food and beverages, diners and smokers can make reservations through Resy, a leading online booking service that handles reservations for top restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, DC. 

Lowell Cafe’s reservations were booked through October within four hours of initial availability on Sept. 1. 

But you can get in. Bar seating and some dining tables are available for walk-in customers.

Lowell Cafe is open 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily. Last call for cannabis sales is 9:50 p.m. 

Customers who want to smoke or vape after 9:50 p.m. have two options: make  reservations and pre-order cannabis, or bring your own and pay a $20 “tokeage” fee.

Non-smokers, rejoice: While smoking and vaping are allowed thought Lowell Cafe, one patio is reserved for non-smokers.

Lowell Cafe is not the first restaurant open to the public to pair cuisine and cannabis. The Green House Kitchen operated in Amsterdam circa 2015-2016 but under Dutch law could not sell cannabis (BYO was OK) and only allowed vaping, not smoking. 

Lowell Cafe opened under a pilot program by the City of West Hollywood. Like all new restaurants — and like cannabis businesses in particular — Lowell Cafe experienced pre-opening regulatory hassles. 

One kink Lowell Cafe smoothed out actually allows it to serve both food and cannabis.

Customers will receive one check for food and beverages and one check for cannabis. 

The only sign of this point-of-sales system work-around may actually be the most mind-blowing of all for cannabis consumers: 

You pay for your cannabis after you consume it. 

Lowell Cafe

1201 North La Brea West Hollywood
(323) 975-7676
www.LowellCafe.com

West Hollywood Abuzz: American Amsterdam in Southern California

WeHo Radically Mainstreams Cannabis Consumption with Lounges and Restaurants

City Leaders Envision Buzzy Entertainment Enclave Popular with Locals and Tourists Becoming the State’s Legal Cannabis Destination

By Ed Murrieta

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Viewed from Google maps, this buzzy enclave fits in the urban heart of Southern California like a jagged-edged puzzle piece abutting three other famous cities: Los Angeles, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Viewed, smelled and tasted from street-level, West Hollywood fits your imaginary movie images of American Amsterdam.

Nearby Venice may have been up for the part with its picturesque canals and picaresque dispensaries, but West Hollywood, historically friendly to vice and alternative lifestyles, earns today’s leading role in mainstreaming cannabis culture and commerce.

Comprising just 1.8 square miles of Los Angeles County land, West Hollywood is home to 34,000 people and 40 approved cannabis business licenses, from delivery services to dispensaries to lounges to the world’s first licensed and regulated restaurant serving food and cannabis. West Hollywood estimates weed tourism will bring in about $6 million in tax revenue annually.

“We think this will drive more hotel nights in the city, that it will drive more people to come into the city, to go to our restaurants and bars, and patronize our other businesses,” West Hollywood’s weed czar John Leonard said.

Lowell Cafe recently opened, serving non-infused cuisine and menus of cannabis flowers, joints and extracts. Other cannabis restaurants in the works include Budberry, a garden cafe with a koi pond that’s scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day,and Aeon Botanika, a 7,000-square-foot wellness-shop / superfoods cafe / cannabis boutique / Moroccan-themed cannabis tea lounge / cannabis-enhanced acupuncture spa that is scheduled to open in the spring.


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Vape Me Out to the Ballgame

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San Francisco Cannabis Lounges and the Giants Fit Friendly Farms Like a Glove 

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants return on April 5. For baseball fans, the team’s home opener is cause for celebration. For cannabis fans, it’s cause for consumption.

You can’t smoke, vape, dab or legally eat cannabis at the newly christened Oracle Park, but you can consume pre-game  pot at nine San Francisco cannabis lounges — most of which are located within easy Uber, Lyft or public transportation distance from the South of Market stadium.

Here’s my batting-and-vaping order for San Francisco cannabis lounges and San Francisco Giants home games. Several lounges stock Friendly Farms’ award-winning artisanal cannabis extracts

1.
Urban Pharm
122 10th St.
Steampunky Urban Pharm is the closest lounge to Oracle Park and fills the lead-off spot with a staffed dab bar featuring Friendly Farms’ award-winning live-resin extracts. Find Friendly Farms’ vape pens and dab sauces at Urban Pharm.

2.
Vapor Room
79 9th St.
Small and appealing, Vapor Room recently returned from the disabled list. Find Friendly Farms’ vape pens and dab sauces at Vapor Room. Enjoy Friendly Farms’ artisanal live-resin extracts in tiny window-front lounge.

3.
Barbary Coast
925 Mission St.
The city’s most decadent full-service lounge, Barbary Coast begins the meat of the order. Blood-red banquettes and big-screen TVs beat bleacher seats and a monster scoreboard.

4.
Moe Greens
1276 Market St.
Moe Greens cleans ups as San Francisco’s newest full-service lounge and its most classy, classic and professional — like Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry in one spiffy uniform.

5.
SPARC
1256 Mission St.
SPARC offers a little of everything throughout the day: Volcano vaping, staffed dab bar and full-flame toking after 4:20 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Find Friendly Farms’ award-winning artisanal live-resin extracts at SPARC.

6.
Harvest on Geary
4811 Geary Blvd.
Intimate and upscale, Harvest on Geary’s earth-and-sea-toned lounge is newly opened to the public after a run at private membership.    

7.
Harvest Off Mission
30 29th St.
Intimate and upscale, Harvest Off Mission’s earth-and-sea-toned lounge is newly opened to the public after a run at private membership.    

8.
Bloom Room
471 Jessie St.
Enjoy use of Volcano vaporizers and the work of local artists in a small space.

9.
ReLeaf Herbal
1284 Mission St.
ReLeaf is the city’s Candlestick Park of cannabis lounges — a spare, outdated but serviceable throwback to San Francisco’s scruffier days.



If You’re Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Vape Friendly Farms

Enjoy Friendly Farms’ True Full-Spectrum extracts in San Francisco cannabis lounges — and save 20% on Friendly Farms’ vape cartridges and sauces every Saturday near Union Square. By Ed Murrieta

Vapor Room

Recently re-opened in a new location after the feds shut down the dispensary/lounge in 2012, Vapor Room carries Friendly Farms’  vape cartridges and sauces immediately south of Market Street, a short walk from major entertainment, civic and cultural venues. Vapor Room offers a brighter, airier but more intimate lounge environment in its new location than it did in the Lower Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Vapor Room’s new lounge area is fronted by a large storefront window  facing 9th Street, shining a light on the goings on within: adults responsibly consuming cannabis in a comfortable social setting. From inside, vapers and smokers can watch the city pass by. Vapor Room specializes in sun-grown cannabis and operates bodega style. Wander the store. Grab what you’re going to buy — say, a Friendly Farms’ vape cartridge or sauce — and pay at the counter.  Vapor Room is vape-only from opening until 4:20 p.m., upon which time smoking is allowed until closing.

The Vapor Room
79 9th St.
415-621-2100
vaporroom.com


Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast’s exposed brick walls, stained-glass chandeliers, flocked-velvet wallpaper and lipstick-red leather banquettes evoke classic San Francisco restaurants and bordellos where young Mark Twain or a modern-day tech titan might drop by to get high, not far from premium hotels and shopping. That gentle sucking sound beneath your seat? That’s part of Barbary Coast’s smoke-scrubbing ventilation systems that keep the room and your clothes from stinking. Barbary Coast carries Friendly Farms’ vape cartridges and sauces, the latter of which you can dab using Barbary Coast’s quartz-glass rigs and electronic nails.

Barbary Coast
952 Mission St.
415-243-4400
barbarycoastsf.org


Urban Pharm


Enjoy all forms of consumption — smoking, vaping, dabbing — in an intimate space accented with furnishings you’d swear were reclaimed from a Burning Man theme camp. Urban Pharm vibes steampunk: moody lighting, caged entry, reclaimed wood and cut metal accents throughout. Urban Pharm carries Friendly Farms’ vapes and sauces.  Forgot your dab rig? Borrow one from Urban Pharms.

Urban Pharm
122 10th St.
415-872-9488
urbanpharmsf.com


SPARC

Bring your own dab rig to consume Friendly Farms’ sauces purchased from SPARC or stick to Friendly Farms’ vape pens purchased from SPARC, half retail boutique, half sleek wooden-bench-and-table lounge.

SPARC
1256 Mission St.
415-252-7727
sparcsf.org


Moe Greens 

Moe Greens is the newest, largest and most ambitious cannabis lounge in a city that’s pioneered public cannabis consumption in America. Located on Market Street near major culture and entertainment venues, Twitter, Uber, City Hall and BART, Moe Greens is like three cannabis lounges in one: one lounge for vaping, one lounge for dabbing and one lounge for smoking. Designed in gleaming blonde woods, emerald leatherette, starburst chandeliers and golden accents against raw brick, Moe Greens vibes the best of old-school and modern-day San Francisco. Although no food is served (you can BYO within reason), Moe Greens is the most restaurant-like cannabis lounge. Coming soon: Reserve tables., order at tables, pay at tables. State-of-the-art tools and dab rigs are available for customer use.  Moe Greens doesn’t  yet stock Friendly Farms; until then, I recommend Moe Greens’ house-brand Gelato flower at $8 per gram.

Moe Greens
1276 Market St.
415-762-4255
moegreens.com


 No Lounge But 20% Savings

Pure 710SF  is not a lounge. If you visit the store near Union Square on Saturdays , you can save 20 percent on Friendly Farms’ award-winning True Full-Spectrum live-resin cannabis extracts.

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Pure 710SF
49 Kearny St.
415-654-5275
Pure 710SF


Magnolia Wellness

Across the bay in Oakland, Friendly Farms’ sauces are served at $4 per dab  in Magnolia’s dab bar and lounge, along with other premium cannabis concentrates. Recent Friendly Farms’ strains include SFOG and Clementine.

Magnolia Wellness
161 Adeline St., Oakland
510-628-2119
MagnoliaOakland.org

Weed Weekend: San Francisco

Legal cannabis is best enjoyed in social lounges, with gourmet food and in the hands of five-star hotel spa masseuses.

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — Like Amsterdam, this lusty city-state boasts picaresque history, edgy authenticity, mind-blowing art and Instagrammable sights,  and among inclined travelers is a cannabis bucket-list destination. From Barbary Coast Bohemians to Beat generation poets and the Sixties’ Summer of Love to today’s legalized renaissance, cannabis has enshrouded San Francisco in intoxicating fog, a heady come-hither whether you wear flowers in your hair or Kate Spades on your feet. Once, tourists scored baggies of pot from hygiene-challenged ragamuffins on hippie-haven Haight Street; modern visitors marvel at the commercialization and wide-spread availability of California’s top agricultural product now that it’s taxed and regulated by the state and innovated by artisans and entrepreneurs. So dive into world-class cannabis retailing; decadent social-consumption lounges; gourmet meals and five-star hotel spa massages incorporating the plant; and local craft beer and cocktails spiked with cannabis extracts, toasting San Francisco’s gay and high history.

Continue reading

San Francisco Scores First Public Cannabis Lounge in U.S.

Update 2/11: ReLeaf Herbal’s bare-bones lounge is now serving recreational adult-use customers.
Update 2/8: Green Door’s Lounge847 is now open for recreational consumers.
Update 1/18: Urban Pharm opened for recreational sales and lounge use today, Thursday Jan. 18.

Decadent, safe, comfortable and regulated, Barbary Coast is now serving recreational cannabis consumers.

Barbary Coast

A view of the dab bar at Barbary Coast’s lounge. 

BY ED MURRIETA

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Denver.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Las Vegas.

Forget about Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts, too.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge opened Thursday in San Francisco.

Actually, Barbary Coast Collective opened its luxe lounge next to its South of Market medicinal cannabis dispensary in March. Barbary Coast started serving adult-use recreational customers Thursday, making it the first legal, regulated cannabis lounge in America — the holy grail of the modern cannabis era.

“It’s something we’re proud of and excited about,” Barbary Coast director Jesse Henry told me. “I think we are going to get a lot of people who’ll think it’s like going to Amsterdam, and we’ll provide a safe, clean, comfortable place for folks to smoke.”

Continue reading

The First Cannabis Lounge of the Legal Era in America Will Be in San Francisco

‘We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,’ S.F. cannabis czar says.

san-francisco

BY ED MURRIETA

While Denver, Las Vegas and Massachusetts are racing to claim the honor of being the first place in America to host a legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge, eight San Francisco medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges are poised to give San Francisco claim to being the home of the first  legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge in America come 9 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2018 — the first day of the new legal era in which the city’s currently permitted medicinal social lounges can serve the recreational market.

Anyone wanting to be the first cannabis lounge in America has until 8:59 a.m. PST on the first Saturday  of January.  You’ll be competing with the Apple store of cannabis lounges, a Burning Man-inspired lounge that feels like a steampunk sex club and the newest most decadent lounge in town, which I just had the honor of helping to name the best cannabis lounge in the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState Awards.

“We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,” San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis director Nicole Elliott told me in an email this afternoon.

California has not yet created a licensing scheme for cannabis lounges, nor does the state expressly prohibit cannabis lounges.  Absent state prohibition, local governments like San Francisco, Denver and Las Vegas can approve cannabis lounges.  San Francisco’s eight existing medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges — along with one that was shuttered by the federal government in 2011 and is preparing to re-open near Twitter headquarters — will be allowed to operate under city regulations they’ve operated under over the past decade.  Dispensaries that apply for new licenses in 2018 will be subject to stricter ventilation and  hermetically sealed smoking room requirements.

California pot czar Lori Ajax told regulators in Sacramento last week that when the state licenses cannabis lounges some time next year, lounge licenses will be tied to dispensary permits. There’ll be no stand-alone pot cafes in California.

San Francisco is the de facto model for pot lounges and social cannabis consumption in America.

Three of San Francisco’s leading dispensary lounges — Barbary Coast, Urban Pharm and Sparc — told they’re pursuing the state permit that’ll allow them to transition to the adult-use market. I’m checking with the other five dispensaries regarding their plans.

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Urban Pharm

Sparc

Sparc

Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast

 

Here’s a tour of San Francisco cannabis lounges  I wrote last year.Here’s one San Francisco pot lounge story I wrote for the Denver Post’s The Cannabist in 2015. Here’s another.

Which San Francisco pot lounge do you want to visit when the first recreational pot lounge(s) opens in America on Jan. 6, 2018?

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