Back in October 2019, the Original Cannabis Cafe became the nation’s first place to openly consume cannabis. It was a smashing success, resulted in lines down the street, massive media coverage, and even secured Eater LA’s Surprise of the Year. Beginning today, West Hollywood’s second cannabis consumption lounge the Artist Tree Studio Cannabis Lounge opens its doors for on-site imbibing.
The Artist Tree Studio Lounge sits on top of the dispensary of the same name, which first opened in late 2019. It’s a split-level consumption lounge, where smoking is allowed on the second floor, with an edibles-only area on the top floor. The Artist Tree is a rare business for the city, let alone the country, having secured every license possible from West Hollywood officials. That includes on-site consumption, medical and adult-use retail, and delivery. For comparison, the Original Cannabis Cafe is a consumption lounge and dispensary only.
The Artist Tree Studio consumption lounge overlooks Santa Monica Boulevard just west of La Cienega Boulevard, with a second-floor lounge filled with books lining a deep blue bookcase near the host stand. Seating is either on the plush and plant-lined patio, but the breezy interior feels very much like an al fresco area with a massive sliding door. Advanced ionization air-filtration systems keep the smoke at a minimum, while servers take orders for cannabis flower, cannabis beverages, or edibles. Customers can bring their favorite pipes or papers, and if in need of assistance, visitors can rent a vaporizer or bong to take any cannabis experience a step further.
For the time being, co-founder and operator Lauren Fontein notes a 90-minute limit. Construction began a year ago after securing the proper permits, which also have certain limitations. Those limitations involve food and drinks.
Though table service includes cannabis consumption, food and drinks come from Kitchen 24. “We partnered with 24-hour restaurant Kitchen 24 as a delivery partner,” says Fontein. “If people want to order food, we have a dedicated menu. It’s an express delivery service that arrives within 20 to 25 minutes. We had to do it that way because there’s rules about having to separate a restaurant from the consumption space.”
No alcohol is allowed at any cannabis consumption lounge either, so Kitchen 24’s virgin margaritas, mojitos, and a virgin cucumber mule will have to do for those looking for beverages. If hungry, Kitchen 24’s breakfast burritos, Angus beef sliders, burgers, sandwiches, and salads, along with shakes, desserts, and smoothies, will keep the munchies at bay. If in need of a soda or coffee drink, that’s also available for order via the Toast app.
Cannabis orders take place on a tablet. Customers can make their own selections or get assistance from a server. Everything is listed by category, type, and dosage, and is a curated list of what’s sold downstairs at the full dispensary. If there’s a product available only the dispensary and not on the lounge menu, staff can still bring it upstairs. Speaking of staff, Artist Tree Studio servers are highly trained and knowledgeable about cannabis consumption to guide guests toward the best personal experience.
Fontein and business partners Avi and Mitchell Kahan are navigating the frequent state and local law changes while expanding their dispensary footprint throughout California. The partners have four dispensary locations throughout the region, including Koreatown, Beverly Hills, and Riverside, and working on a new retail store in Fresno. The dispensary and consumption lounges are filled with work by local artists, but the owners collect no commission for the art; performance spaces will host comedy, drag brunches, music, yoga classes, and more.
There are some familiar touches throughout the Artist Tree Studio. Los Angeles hospitality designer Kevin Klein — who developed Ricardo Zarate’s Short Stories on Fairfax — steered the look and feel of the Artist Tree, and also chose every book on the shelves. The overall ambience feels like a hip hotel lounge or swanky creative office.
The Artist Tree is only one of sixteen total cannabis consumption lounges scheduled to open in West Hollywood in the coming years. Though the Original Cannabis Cafe plans to reopen later this year, this “Emerald Village” of cannabis lounges is part of West Hollywood’s long-term strategy to embrace the cannabis industry. Undoubtedly, they’re loving the tax revenue too, while providing consumers with a legal place to enjoy cannabis. Hours at the Artist Tree are from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.