Want to normalize cannabis? Treat it like any other legal mind-altering substance you’d enjoy with a meal. That’s what the restaurant Brotha Dudes is doing. Just as you’d sip wine, beer, a cocktail, or even a cup of coffee with your dinner, this family-run restaurant in Bellingham, Washington is serving “blunts,” “spliffs,” and “bowls” off the menu.
Their food isn’t actually infused with weed, despite menu item names like “Dudes Blunt” or “Cali Spliff,” though they do park a food truck right outside a dispensary expressly so that customers can replace (or add to) booze with bud as they enjoy any one of Brotha Dudes’ wraps, veggie, chicken or falafel bowls, or sandwiches.
“We’re kind of entering a whole new era,” says Theo Radke, Brotha Dudes co-owner and marketing director. “And we’re on the frontier.” Rather than shy away from it, the restaurant has completely embraced cannabis culture and the cute, punny marketing techniques that come with it.
But the restaurant embodies more than just a cute play on 420-friendly culture. Founded by Briana and Julius Stoker in 2016, the idea and name for the restaurant grew out of their son Duncan’s nickname “Brotha Dude.” Duncan’s parents would make him delicious food before he went off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and he’s share that food with fellow hikers, who came to call him “Brotha Dude” and said his parents’ food was so good they should open a restaurant. So they did.
Moreover, Julius Stoker has struggled with addiction to painkillers after receiving a prescription for them a few years ago. Though doctors told him there was no alternative medication he could take, he discovered that medical marijuana could ease his pain and ultimately break his addiction. By making cute reference to cannabis on his restaurant’s menu, Julius says he hopes to get more people talking about cannabis and become more open to using it as medicine.