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Here’s What To Expect At Cannabis Industry Incubator Green Street And Restaurant Gusto Green

The highly-anticipated cannabis industry incubator Green Street is now open. It’s a unique weed-centric building filled with offices for cannabis entrepreneurs, art galleries, consumption-friendly event spaces, and a ground floor restaurant named Gusto Green.

Green Street’s founder Rama Mayo has spent three years remodeling the 7-story space in downtown Los Angeles, California. Built in 1913, the historic building at 718 South Hill Street has been reborn. Along with the brick white facade, the only feature his team kept from the original building is the massive, dark wood spiral that winds up the central staircase. Its history is palpable.

Like many in-person businesses, Green Street’s road to opening doors has been filled with challenges due to the pandemic. “Before COVID, everything was rented out. All the office spaces were taken. Then COVID hit, and all the people left, so now we’re feeding people back in again,” says Mayo. “Today I feel like we’re going to for sure get there. I still feel like I’m riding the bicycle in Tour de France going up the hill and it’s super slow. It’s up there, I see it.”

Green Street is the headquarters of Green Street Agency, founded in 2013 by Mayo and Josh Shelton. Investor guru Gary Vaynerchuck joined the company in 2017. Green Street Agency has won AdCann awards twice for agency of the year and worked for clients in the cannabis space that include Wonderbrett, Satori, Eaze, Dixie, Post Malone’s weed brand Shaboink, and more.

One of the biggest draws of the space is the potential for creative collaboration and networking. “People are meeting each other,” says Mayo. “It’s working. I always look at it like I’m doing an apartment building, but it’s not, really. It’s an apartment building if all the tenants were best friends. Where people get together, create their own events, and collaborate. The goal is to not just fill the building, but fill the building with companies like competitors, frenemies, friends, people who want to get together as a community.”

With its sleek white gallery walls and smooth, circular lighting fixtures, Green Street is the modern, professional upgrade that the cannabis industry office spaces have yet to be up until now. Mayo is excited to contribute to cannabis graduating, so to speak. “I use the term the ‘kid’s table,’ but I feel like the cannabis industry has been put to that,” says Mayo. “I don’t like the kid’s table, as far as a business is concerned. Here it was like, let’s spare no expense. The idea was to elevate it. It’s what cannabis deserves. That’s my dream, that people feel that way.”

Artwork, books, and modern coffee tables are sprinkled throughout the events floors, alongside brand installations for the companies that operate under the Green Street roof. Among them: Country Cannabis Co, Vacation, Gas, Asterisk, and Trees by Game. Other weed companies that are working out of the incubator include the events darling of California Hall of Flowers, producer and content creator Jason Pinsky, Weavers, an internationally-known blunt artist, and more.

“It’s such a good place to meet people in cannabis, it’s the perfect place for networking,” says Jaime Nacrur, founder and artist behind Weavers, one of the tenants in the newly-redesigned space.

“Green Street’s a home for cannabis pioneers, a safe space for the community to collaborate,” says Jamie Feaster, co-founder of the cannabis brand Country Cannabis Co. “Our showroom allows us to connect with all of our retail accounts, press, and partners in a single place. It’s one of the few places where folks can learn about our brand and sample our products at the same time.”

The rooftop floor of Green Street is still being built out, with an opening Mayo expects sometime this summer. The rooftop plans include a stage, full bar, kitchen, with blueprints laying out plenty of airy seating, high stools, and large stone ovens. The penthouse floor and gallery is a cannabis events space called Alta. Alta can accommodate 300 guests. Green Street’s 4th floor also functions as an events space. The 3rd floor and 5th floor are reserved offices meant exclusively for cannabis entrepreneurs.

“This is a culture, this space exists to to protect the authenticity of cannabis, that’s what our goal is,” says Mayo. “To have it be a real business place for these entrepreneurs and brand owners to come and be safe. We know that they smoke weed, you can do it anywhere, and you can meet the other people who smoke weed. It’s a safe space.”

Green Street is throwing its first large-scale event this year called the Green Street Festival on May 13 and 14, 2022. The cannabis-friendly event will feature performances by hip hop artists Juicy J and Harry Mack. Green Street Agency co-owner and cannabis investor Gary Vaynerchuck will also be in attendance. The event will feature munchie-worthy food vendors including Yeastie Boys, Gusto Green, Afters Ice Cream, and more.

On the walk-up first floor of Green Street sits Gusto Green. The buzzed-about new restaurant is the brainchild of Gusto 54’s founder Janet Zuccarini and chef Michael Magliano, formerly of The French Laundry. Gusto Green will not be serving cannabis-infused meals, however, its menu praises hemp and even features tempura-fried hemp leaves. Gusto Green has an exclusive partnership with Ziese Farms, which is the only federally approved hemp grower for food in the country.

“It’s exhilarating,” says Chef Michael Magliano. “It’s been a few years for myself personally since I’ve been in a professional kitchen cooking. I’ve been doing a lot of private work, parties, catering. To me, it’s a blessing to be back in the kitchen.”

The wildly creative menu includes items like Hamachi Crudo, White Cherokee Hominy, Beet Gnochetti, Okinawa Sweet Potato, Almond Ricotta Pizza, Smoked Pork Ribs, and more. What is Chef Magliano’s favorite dish on the menu so far? “There are a few. Obviously, we’re super excited about the Crispy Hemp Leaf being on the menu,” says Magliano. “It’s to my knowledge that there isn’t another restaurant that carries it, since we have the federal allowance through Ziese Farms. It’s an especially cool menu item as it relates to the Green Street Building. It’s truly our bridge to cannabis, and it’s our way of telling that story.”

“Our goal is to pair it with the social equity part of cannabis. As Green Street grows, there will be about 400 people in this building working in cannabis. Meanwhile, there are about 40,000 individuals currently incarcerated for cannabis,” says Magliano. “It really excites me that we can bring awareness to the hospitality side of this emerging industry by partnering with People’s Pottery Project and Last Prisoner’s Project. So, hemp leaf is a very exciting part of Gusto Green, and we look forward to scaling this superfood ingredient in other ways.”

Chef Magliano says he is also excited to feature sustainably-farmed Peach Palm Hearts from Hamakua Farms. “I talk to the owner Brian Nadeau every week for years,” says Magliano. “Their sustainably-harvested peach palm hearts are cut for us and shipped from Hawaii, and they don’t need to cut down rainforests to obtain it. It’s a really exciting and special ingredient. We have this amazing hominy that makes a really humble dish.”

“The variety we have was passed down from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to an indigenous farmer, who grows and processes the hominy in a process called nixtamalization. It’s done the traditional way, with wood ash, which creates an alkaline water when he cooks it,” says Magliano. “The hominy is dried over a wooden well, which has a smoky element to it.”

Chef Magliano says the menu will evolve over time, reflecting seasonal picks at local farmer’s markets and foragers across the state. “The actual artisans and farmers that give us such amazing produce are a big part of my passion and inspiration,” says Magliano. “We’ll see Sea Urchin on the menu in the future, which comes from a friend of mine, Stephanie Mutz (Stephanie Fish). She dives for some of the best urchin in the world off the Santa Barbara coast,” says Magliano. “Another amazing local purveyor is Coleman Family Farms, which grows over 200 varieties of herbs and lettuces a year.”

Gusto Green will source a lot of ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Some menu items that will vary throughout the year include bee pollen, fennel, and Cara Cara oranges, and Blood oranges. Reservations for the restaurant can be made online, with its grand opening slated for January 19, 2022.

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