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Gov. Newsom Snuffs Out Possibility of Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes

Plus, the Sammiche Shoppe seeks community support, MacLeod on York closes, and more

An Original Cannabis Cafe customer rolling a joint at the U.S.’s first cannabis restaurant.
Original Cannabis Cafe.
Wonho Frank Lee
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 374, which would have permitted cannabis dispensaries to convert into cafes that sell non-cannabis food and products, and host live music, and events. Newsom cited concerns surrounding the state’s smoke-free workplace protections, but the bill’s supporters are disappointed as dispensaries struggle to compete with a thriving black market.

California dispensaries are only allowed to sell cannabis food or drink items, versus non-psychoactive consumables like coffee, soda, or a burger. Existing consumption lounges can serve food but with a caveat that forces them to do creative workarounds to serve food. The Artist Tree partnered with Kitchen 24 which delivers food to those in the consumption lounge. When it first opened in 2019, regulations forced the Original Cannabis Cafe to function as two separate businesses: a restaurant and a cannabis retail establishment.

Assemblymember Matt Haney authored AB 377, which found considerable bipartisan support. Haney posted a response via Twitter and noted that bigger issues are at stake. “With the passing of Prop 64, voters legalized the onsite smoking of cannabis in licensed dispensaries,” wrote Haney. “Smoking cannabis is illegal outdoors, in all public places, in apartment buildings, and in automobiles. Without onsite smoking being allowed in dispensaries, it would be functionally illegal for anyone other than homeowners and their guests to smoke cannabis in California.”

A GoFundMe for one of South LA's best sandwich makers

Fans of South LA’s Sammiche Shoppe noticed an Instagram post last week from owner Willie Jenkins, who said that both locations are in danger of closing. The original Inglewood location opened in 2018, and the USC/University Park location debuted barely a year ago. Sammich Shoppe built a fan base by building sandwiches that favor air fryer-prepared ingredients versus deep-fried.

Jenkins tells Eater LA he was involved in a life-altering head-on collision in 2022 on the same day he received approval from the health department for the USC location. Jenkins is still recovering from head, leg, and back injuries while operating two businesses. Jenkins also employs formerly incarcerated individuals and on Sunday posted a GoFundMe asking the community for support.

LA fine dining and TikTok

The Robb Report looked at the convergence of social media and fine dining, including chef Tuệ Nguyễn’s Đi Đi in West Hollywood.

MacLeod on York announces closure

MacLeod on York is officially closed. The owners announced the news on Instagram, though it’s been a rocky run for the brewery and pizzeria. The Highland Park restaurant opened one year ago but temporarily closed in November due to low sales. They also cited an unresolved landlord dispute. See the full Instagram post below.