I’m meeting local artist/creator Sara Ann Rutherford and her boyfriend, Eastwood bartender Glenn Gallagher for their dinner date at Stoned Gourmet Cannabis Pizza, which is located "somewhere" in the East Village.
yet-to-be-legal business that opened here earlier this fall. (He has been in business for several years, with a location in New Jersey that previously offered a sit-down service as well as several delivery outposts in the five boroughs.)
I'm there for the next-to-last night of indoor dining before the city shuts down once again, in hopes of slowing the second-wave spread of COVID, and the place is booked at its 25-percent max capacity, mostly with couples like Sara and Glenn for a date night, and small birthday celebrations. The patrons appear to be happy (even before the THC-laced food and drink are consumed) and relaxed, speaking of a difficult year and a desire to "let loose."
Everything felt somewhat illicit, probably due to the blacked-out windows, the "are you on the list" check-in, the illegal consumption of cannabis, and the fact that it's indoor dining on its last night for now. Plus, there's the small private smoking chamber, where people enjoyed prerolls and other smoking materials.
Chris is no stranger to controversy, being combatively arrested as recently as two weeks ago, and granting media access to Vice, as well as hosting parties for rap notables and Instagram influencers. Chris, a Bensonhurst native, mentions he's being profiled by New York magazine for an upcoming issue as he rolls a giant joint. He is seldom seen that night without one in hand.
I've arrived ahead of Sara and Glenn and am shown the restaurant's kitchen, food prep areas, cold storage, basement and the office, where delivery orders are being rung up at a startling clip.
Chris and his manager of operations Niko Santos introduce me to the staff and I ask about their comfort level in having me take pictures for local media coverage.
I am shown the garlic ganja knots, with 100mg of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) per order of six pieces, and sticky-icky wings, a chicken lollipop dish with 150 mg THC per order. The chef points out the entrees: vegan pizza, the medical margarita pie (vegetarian), as well as the wildly popular sativa sausage pie.
I watch as guests arrive and undergo COVID screening rituals — temperature checks, log-in of personal information for contact tracing, hand sanitizer being dispensed before people are led to their seats. Staffers are masked, and explain how the process works.
It's a two-hour unlimited or all-you-can-eat tasting menu, with appetizers, entrée and dessert and well as non-alcoholic beverages (including choices like Sour Sprite, Orange Kush, Canna Cola), all made with marijuana. Baseline cost is $100 per person, with add-ons available, like the popular birthday cakes that I see lined up ready for the night’s celebrations, or prerolls, tinctures, and cartridges.
The meal ends with a dessert platter, canna cannolis, Girl Scout cookies, and brownies, along with three flavors of gelato (flavors rotate daily). By this time, everyone appears very high, there is a lot of laughter, and folks do not seem to want the evening to end.
"The pandemic has been hard on people, everyone is stressed out, worried," one Harlem-based couple tells me. "This was a nice night out for us, before a grueling work week ahead."
here. Although the restaurant is currently closed due to the Cuomo-mandated shutdown, delivery options are still available, and Chris hopes to reopen for indoor dining when it is safe to do so.