In the fall of 2019, the first cannabis restaurant, Cannabis Cafe, opened its doors to the progressive West Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. And it was all built up by a black woman.
In a short 10-year span, Andrea Drummer, has managed to pioneer an industry the only way she knows how: by focusing on generational wealth, and keeping her eye on the community as the Executive Chef and head partner of the first weed-infused cafe in America.
Hailing as a South Florida native, Cannabis Cafe, which organically began as a farm-to-table concept, sits on the infamous La Brea Avenue. You can find the best of both worlds on its menu; both comfort food combined with classically trained-culinary complexities. Although, the food isn't infused (they aren't legally permitted to do so at the moment), they instead choose to pair its menu items, with curated in-house strains, making it a place where you can quite literally order your chicken vegan nachos, and sativa too.
Drummer's dreams of becoming a chef, cultivated from a fashion career—and, ironically, a start as an anti-drug counselor. “I found myself preaching the gospel of 'say no to drugs' or that 'cannabis is a gateway drug' (an industry stigma that she considers a major misconception today). That was me."
Deciding to move on from counseling, Drummer found herself still unfulfilled and uninspired. "I was ready to explore a career that utilized my creative ability versus forcing that great part of myself on to other career paths that only fit short-term. I vetted the ideas of food (Le Cordon Bleu) and fashion (FIDM). After one year of the vetting process, I committed myself to a culinary career."
"I was ready to explore a career that utilized my creative ability versus forcing that great part of myself on to other career paths that only fit short-term."
Drummer soon packed her bags, and relocated to California, where she was exposed to a whole new world of cannabis consumers; a world where those who took part in weren't imprisoned, or hiding their usage—and instead, were all progressive, productive, and successful. She took a leap of faith and dove head-first into the very niche, taboo trade, eventually, surpassing expectations of what evolved into a dominant cannabis career.
The hustle took a bit of a detour, as the constant motion and standing took its toll on her body. She began suffering from chronic back pain (which she considers a low point in her career), essentially birthing infusion out of necessity. She looked to it as an alternative way to medicate, versus using prescribed opiates.
The results were almost immediate. And she knew she was into something big.
Before long, her journey evolved into destiny, poetically finding her while doing—and serving—what she grew to love.
"It was four years ago; I was executive producing a project with Spotify called, the Breaking Bread series. They would compile a group of characters to sit around a table and consume a four- to six-course [cannabis-infused] menu that I would prepare for them. I noticed that a lot of them were all industry guys, and had very high tolerance," she says. "I wanted to find a product that aligned with the brand that I was putting forth, and provide the cannabis as well, so we found Lowell (a popular cannabis farm and brand). And it was a match made in heaven: the branding, the product, their care for the product, their attention to detail. I completely fell in love with the brand and they were excited to be able to provide products for me for my dinners."
The partnership worked so well, that shortly afterward, Drummer began introducing products to the likes of Miguel, Ty Dolla $ign, Wale, and Wiz Khalifa. Its success caused a Lowell partner to approach her to recruit her to be the face of lobbying for a West Hollywood consumption license, a license required to sell cannabis in a public space.
And after a long process and working out logistics of an unfamiliar space, they were awarded the license. Soon thereafter, Cannabis Cafe was born.
Her pride beams through her voice as she goes into detail. "Our menu is an offshoot of that [Spotify] experience — pairing the same flavor profiles of the bud that we offer with the cuisine. I have to be very mindful of what flavor profiles I'm putting on the menu. I want to do some really intense flavors, or things that enhance the cannabis experience, while being considerate of what flavors and notes come forward when you partake or indulge in cannabis."
And true to form, Drummer has masterfully pivoted her brand, her experience, her expertise, into an unapologetic monarchy, as she gracefully sits at the head as the first black face of a tabooed and criminally gentrified industry—b.k.a., a literal alchemist exhibition.
Today, Cannabis Cafe's operations have been affected by COVID-19, but Drummer certainly isn't allowing that to pause the vision. “I'm working on product development, initiatives that address mental health in the black community and other brick and mortar ventures that I look forward to announcing!" she proudly boasts.
Additionally, Drummer looks forward to continuing the fight, whether in-house or not, all while pulling up, advocating, and promoting melanated equality in the space.
"When I've done all that I can do, I would hope that I am able to impact generational wealth for black and brown communities. Being named an industry pioneer, challenging perception of the face of consumption, and being a partner of the first cannabis cafe in the U.S., all equate to those polarizing monikers that, at the end of the day, I hope will serve as stepping stones to that end goal."
"Generational wealth. For the culture."
To keep up with Andrea's journey, you can visit the Cannabis Cafe's website, to learn more about its pandemic plans, or follow her on Instagram at @canna_queen71. You can also order her cookbook here.
Feature photo courtesy of Marina Thompson