Andrea Drummer is at the forefront of the potential goldmine that is cannabis in restaurants.
As chef and co-owner of The Original Cannabis Café, the country’s first restaurant to legally sell pot for on-site consumption, she’s at the leading edge of defining what a restaurant can look like in a legalized environment.
West Hollywood, Calif., where Drummer’s restaurant is located, is ground zero for this new and ever-evolving frontier. The city in 2018 granted eight licenses for restaurant and lounge concepts to sell marijuana. The Original Cannabis Café, which opened in late 2019 under the name Lowell Cafe, was the first of the approved outlets to open its doors.
Guests 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. Separately, guests can also choose from a 12-page menu of cannabis products, including pre-rolled joints, concentrates for vaping, paraphernalia and edibles.
The food itself doesn’t contain cannabis — that’s not allowed yet — but simply letting diners consume food and cannabis in a restaurant setting is groundbreaking. That’s because in many jurisdictions, even where sale and use of marijuana is legal, it can’t be consumed in most public spaces. Getting cannabis fans out of their homes to purchase a meal while they partake could spell huge sales potential for the industry.
For Drummer, it’s a long time coming. She’s been advocating for cannabis to have a place at the table for years.
She is the author of the landmark book “Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of a Born Again Chef,” published in 2017, and leads Elevation VIP Cooperative, a catering company and medical marijuana dispensary that caters customized, pot-laced dinners. She got the attention of the Original Cannabis Café team through “Breaking Bread,” a series she produced on Spotify in which guests would eat a multicourse, cannabis-infused dinner.
Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Drummer worked in non-cooking-related jobs in Miami, Philadelphia and Atlanta as well as Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Southern California and attending the Pasadena location of Le Cordon Bleu. Before founding Elevation, she worked under high-profile California chefs including Neal Fraser and Thomas Keller and also was chef of the Executive Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
Marijuana is now legal for recreational purposes in 11 states and the District of Columbia, as well as all of Canada, and though states and municipalities have different regulations, businesses — restaurants included — are eager to get in on the action.
The significance of what is happening at the Original Cannabis Café isn’t lost on Drummer.