Despite its unassuming name, Lowell’s Cafe is no ordinary eatery. Nestled in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Lowell’s is the country’s first on-site consumption
cannabis cafe. While the restaurant does not serve cannabis-infused cuisine, it has a retail space that boasts both an indoor and outdoor consumption lounge, and guests can light up and chow down in the restaurant section or the lounge areas.
When you arrive at your table, you’re greeted first by chic, bohemian décor, and then by two servers – a food server and a budtender. Notably, the cannabis menu is much more extensive than the food menu. But unlike its Dutch predecessors, Lowell’s offers more than just cafe drinks and mundane munchies. It’s a full-fledged eatery (minus the alcohol license), with menu items ranging from burgers and Banh Mi to avocado toast, Brussels sprouts and cold-pressed juice, with vegan and gluten-free options.
But for a consumption cafe, it has its limitations. While it provides free rolling papers and free use of a vaporizer with concentrate purchase, you’re not allowed to bring your own smoking device. And if you want to use one of theirs, you have to rent it – at a cost of $75 to use a gravity bong, and $200 to borrow a hookah. On the upside, it does allow you to BYO buds – but you must pay a $20 fee. On the downside, your stay is limited to just 90 minutes, for dining and lounging combined. Nevertheless, as the first of its kind, it is sure to pave the way for other cannabis cafes to open elsewhere in California.
While the Bay Area doesn’t yet have any on-site consumption eateries, enterprising chefs still find innovative ways to get their cannabis-infused cuisine to the table. Events like those hosted by TSOcial Club, Cannaseur Series and The Herb Somm represent a slice of haute cannacuisine culture that caters to the high-end – and just high – foodie chronnoisseur. But they exist in a legal grey area that requires them to operate as private events. While there’s something alluring about the underground, almost prohibition-era social club nature of these kinds of affairs, with Lowell blazing the trail, they soon may be able to come out into the light.
Jamie Evans, the Herb Somm, leads the NorCal chapter of Crop-to-Kitchen, an organization advocating for legal cannacuisine eateries throughout California. Evans told Forbes they’re working to help establish a cannabis license with the hope that by 2025, the general public will be able to enjoy infused cannabis cuisine. Until then, bong appetit!