At Andrea Drummer’s restaurant, the food itself does not contain cannabis as authorities do not allow that yet.
But what the executive chef finds gratifying is the fact that her guests are able to consume food and cannabis in a public space.
This is because in many jurisdictions, even where the sale and use of marijuana is legal, the product cannot be consumed in a lot of public spaces.
And even with areas that have underground cannabis pop-ups, there is no “brick-and-mortar cannabis restaurant” like Drummer’s.
Known as the Original Cannabis Café, the restaurant is located at West Hollywood, Calif., a city that recently granted eight licenses for restaurants and consumption lounges to sell marijuana.
Opening in late 2019 under the name Lowell Café, the Original Cannabis Café was the first to score one of the licenses.
Guests at the restaurant “can choose from a three-page menu of snacks, such as corn dogs and crispy Brussels sprouts, burgers and sandwiches, soft drinks and desserts — designed by Drummer to heighten the cannabis experience,” said a report by Nation’s Restaurant News.
The report added that guests can also choose from a 12-page menu of cannabis products such as concentrates for vaping, pre-rolled joints, paraphernalia and edibles.
Drummer, a cannabis advocate and author, has hosted culinary cannabis events over the years through her Elevation VIP Cooperative, a medicinal marijuana dispensary specializing in premium innovative cuisine that enhances the quality of life for patients.
She got moved to the idea of a cannabis restaurant while producing the Breaking Bread series, a project with Spotify in which guests would sit around a table and consume a four to six-course (cannabis-infused) menu she prepared for them.
Along the way, she was approached by Sean Black of Lowell Herb Co., who is now co-owner of the restaurant.
“He said, ‘I think we should do something with this, something broader,’ and I said okay, sure,'” Drummer said in an interview with Vogue.
Today, the Original Cannabis Café is the first restaurant in the U.S. to “legally sell pot for on-site consumption.”
The other significant part of the whole business for Drummer is the education she gives out to community members and partners in West Hollywood.
“A great part of my work has been the educational component, educating consumers and nay-sayers and doubters, and people who still have the misconception that cannabis is a bad thing,” the veteran chef said.
Coming from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Drummer handled jobs that were not cooking-related before attending the Pasadena location of Le Cordon Bleu. She subsequently worked under some influential chefs in California and later founded Elevation.
Talking about her experience recently as a black female chef in the cannabis and culinary industry, Drummer said: “I think that I’ve always been rather bold and not deterred by perception or what should be an obstacle. You know that these things exist, you know that both the cannabis and culinary industry lack black and brown faces in leadership positions. But once I believed in what I was doing I just moved forward in that.”
Going forward, Drummer said she plans working on a Lowell cafe cookbook while doing more speaking and advocacy.
“I’d love to do a show, a traveling show of some sort. Perhaps a traveling and cannabis show, both in the states that have legalization and others that don’t, and speak to some of the politicians or powers-at-be and talk about what they are anticipating and then get into the culinary history and some of the beliefs in these states about cannabis and the perceptions there.”