Weed & Restaurant Industries
Weed. It’s What’s For Dinner.
Marijuana has been almost as much a part of dining, music, drinking and getting together with friends as alcohol for a long time. In Colorado, probably more so, but never more than the part in the play it has now. Not only is it more available, and legal, but it is steeped, infused, dunked and laced in a host of edibles from lolli-pops to salad dressings. Pop-up weed dinners, multi-course weed and food paired events, bakeries and serious edible production kitchens are finding traction all over town.
The challenges it presents to the Colorado labor force have been well documented in recent articles. Why grind it out in a kitchen at $14-$15 an hour when you can be a trimmer at a grow facility, get blazed and listen to your favorite music all day while working a regular Monday– Friday, nine to five gig – for $22 an hour. Add to that scenario a pocket full of chunky big Sour Diesel or Bruce Banner #3 buds to bring home to the roomies – and it’s an easy choice.
You can’t come to work under the influence of anything at most restaurants, and having a bottle of booze in your backpack in the morning was always good cause for a bench talk and some concern over your drinking habits. Nowadays, walking into an employee room and getting a big heady whiff o’ weed emanating from someone’s backpack is the norm. But I think we are all still callin’ bullshit on, “It helps me work better.” The rest of the nation has this image of Coloradans walking around in a haze of weed 24/7. That ain’t the case, but it has definitely changed the work landscape- fer shure brah.
The biggest change in the nightly performance called “service”, however, is our beloved out of town guests. WeedCationers are coming from points beyond, landing at DIA on a Friday afternoon and Ubering straight to the dispensary. First edible goes down with a fresh Colorado craft brew, but doesn’t immediately affect the imbiber, and they double-up looking for better results. A quick shower and they’re off to the nearest restaurant with a 5 star Yelp review. Our first ask of guests sitting down with us is something along the lines of: “What brings you in tonight?” When the answer is, “We are from Dayton, just in for the weekend,” there is an immediate note made and communication to the other bar staff. Two things happen at this point. The desired outcome is a completely happy and stoned guest who eats and drinks their face off and has a memorable experience. The second and less joyous outcome is when one of the Dayton Duo begins getting the full volume of dose number 2 and does a back-gainer off the bar stool while trying to eat their fist and dinging their melon on the hard wood floor. We usually administer some cold water, suggest a little walk around the block and get them back for some dessert.
The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has had an impactful and undeniable, unavoidably wonderful and immediately challenging effect on the Colorado restaurant community. It’s a two-sided saber. It draws in tourists, it creates a lot of jobs and it generates crazy-high tax revenues. It also challenges the labor force, raises rents and brings in stonie customers from small towns in America who can’t paddle in the big waves.
The jury, and the Feds, are still out on what the future of legalized marijuana is in the US – but in the meantime, us resourceful Colorado folk will continue to balance all the upside with a bit of the challenging and try and keep our Midwestern guests upright on their barstools – and our restaurants fully staffed for their arrival.