In a surprise announcement yesterday, West Hollywood released the names of businesses sure to up the city’s cannabis game beginning in 2019. The City spent seven months screening 300 applicants for highly-coveted cannabis licenses, which includes cannabis restaurants, cafes, and consumption lounges.
That’s worth repeating: West Hollywood will have actual eateries, lounges, and cafes that allow smoking, vaping, and/or munching on edibles and weed-infused food. WeHo officials began screening applicants in April, where entities spent thousands of dollars to submit detailed proposals to an independent five-member committee. There are five license categories, which brings the following new businesses into WeHo:
- Eight edibles-only consumption area cafes
- Eight consumption lounges where cannabis smoking, vaping, and edibles can be consumed on-site
- Eight medical dispensary services
- Eight new adult-use retail businesses
- Eight cannabis delivery services
Each businesses must now secure a West Hollywood business license within the next 12 months, and find a physical location.
This news is a game-changer, and far surpasses what many describe as a stalled dispensary application process in Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation. Throughout the country, there are only seven consumption lounges in San Francisco, one in Oakland, and one in Denver. But WeHo’s group of new businesses could place West Hollywood on par with Amsterdam, Netherlands for cannabis tourism, and maybe eventually surpass it.
Eater spoke with three of the approved businesses about their plans.
Aēon secured three different cannabis licenses, so its future includes an area for adult-use retail, a medical dispensary, and a consumption lounge that allows smoking, vaping, and eating edibles. Co-founded by nutritionist, Nicole Fox, Aēon leans towards the side of wellness with a health cafe, dietitians, naturopathic physicians, and acupuncturists on site. There’s also a social lounge where imbibers can consume their preferred plant form.
The Antidote was approved as an edibles-only consumption lounge, but it’s also a restaurant with multiple rooms for different experiences. While many applicants renderings show spaces with bright colors, The Antidote adopted a bohemian touch with darker colors, live plants, couches, booths, traditional seating, a communal seating area, a private room for culinary classes, and private fine dining cannabis dinners. The group behind The Antidote includes owners of the Argentine steakhouse Gaucho Grill, Adrian Amosa and Kirk Cartozian. The team is developing a cannabis chimichurri sauce. Co-owner Kirk Cartozian shared his enthusiasm:
“We’re totally stoked the city is excited about our concept, and can’t wait to bring it to life. West Hollywood’s nightlife has it all, save for one thing: the world’s best cannabis restaurant and lounge. The Antidote will be that buzzworthy establishment, bringing together fine dining with cannabis to create a one-of-a-kind, multi-sensory experience. Did we say we’re totally ecstatic about this?”
Budberry founder and CEO Jon Locarni’s vision includes a retail cannabis store, consumption lounge, and cafe. There’s an open kitchen where chef Jeff Danzer, better known as Jeff the 420 Chef, will prepare macaroons, muffins, and pastries during the day, then switch to cannabis-infused beverages as the venue transitions to a lounge at night.
John Leonard is West Hollywood’s Community and Legislative Affairs Manager:
“The City was very impressed by the quality and caliber of the applications we received, many of the businesses are unique, innovative, and world class. The range of visions among the approved applicants reflect an entirely new era of integrated marketplaces, consumption lounges and cafes, cannabis restaurants, and immersive experiences; all of which go far beyond models currently seen in the State, or even the world. We believe these business will set West Hollywood apart and solidify the future success of the cannabis industry in the City.”
West Hollywood’s full list of approved cannabis applicants is on the City of West Hollywood website.