Brooklynites now have a 420-friendly consumption lounge all their own: Just before Christmas, the Bamboo Café opened at a secret location in trendy Williamsburg, celebrating the holidays and manifesting hopes for the new year with a joyful, somewhat nostalgic vibe with a contemporary flair that makes for a pure elevated experience.

What’s Inside the Bamboo Café?

Decorated with a tiki bar aesthetic accompanied by a soothing reggae and rap soundtrack, the Bamboo Café welcomes visitors into a loft-style main area. A stage is set up for live music and the eye is immediately drawn to the far wall, which features a mural of a giant panda (eating bamboo, of course) surrounded by individual art pieces by husband-and-wife team Toca and Lisa, founders of Woken Arts. Most of the paintings add cannabis-themed twists to classic cartoon characters and mythic figures, though one of the most striking is a forest scene that mixes symbols of life and death.

Further back into the space lies a game room and gift shop, colorful accessories stamped with the Bamboo label abounding. Bamboo is the latest brand developed by the team behind Tastee Treats Co™, a family-run company that began in Washington, D.C. when its owner, a veteran who formerly worked on Wall Street, wanted to create better cannabis edibles to treat her brother’s epilepsy. “[My fiance and I] did the research and started experimenting with extraction and decarbing at home,” she said. “We made tea and brownies first, and we realized how much that was helping him. That’s how Tastee Treats was born. I then realized if I can treat my brother with medicines from this plant that I make myself, there are so many other people in the world that I can help with this.”

A sampling of the art at The Bamboo Cafe (C) Woken Arts / Tastee Treats Co™
Bamboo brand products and more (C) Tastee Treats Co™

What’s Different About the Bamboo Café’s Cannabis Experience?

The Tastee brand’s move to New York was to “get New Yorkers familiar with the brand and the D.C. approach to cannabis,” the founder noted. Inspired by the whimsy of D.C. gifting culture, Bamboo incorporates comic-style bear caricatures onto its packaging – the different varieties of classic Bamboo, Bamboo Black,  Bamboo Gold, Bamboo Lato, and the latest Bamboo White are designed in partnership with Runtz ® Subsidiary brand Joke’s Up, aiming to put a smile on consumers’ faces from the moment they enter the gift shop. The gift shop also offers CBD tinctures (the Citrus Mint provides a revitalizing sense of focus and awakening). More delightful bear caricatures also appear in the form of special stash jars, giving new meaning to the term “stuffed animals.”

It’s inside the game room/shop that the cleverness of Bamboo’s founder becomes most clear. She pointed out the unique HVAC system that’s only visible in this part of the space, but operates throughout the entire loft.

“It allows for a cleaner space and better quality air,” the founder stated. “Smoke is vented out at all times. So no matter where in our place you light up, you’ll breathe easier. Safety first!”

The Bamboo Stash Jar (C) Tastee Treats Co™
Steel X Plosion, led by world-renowned Steel Drum player Freddy Harris 3, performs at The Bamboo Cafe. Courtesy of Tastee Treats Co™

Live Music at the Bamboo Café

Entertainers at heart, the Bamboo team included room for a recording studio in the location’s back area. Artists can record and mix tracks here; it’s a safe space for them to get into the creative zone with their favorite cannabis. Music and cannabis are inextricably linked, and of the guests that appeared throughout the Bamboo Café’s first official evening open, many identified themselves as musical artists and producers.

Bamboo is really a spot for the night owls, a fact confirmed when steel band Steel X Plosion sauntered through the doors at 11PM. Led by world-renowned Steel Drum player Freddy Harris 3, the band is aptly named for its ability to make a room ring with vibrant melodies. Using a mélange of steel drums and other percussion instruments, Steel X Plosion added another dimension to the Bamboo Café’s tiki bar atmosphere – one of exuberant pride. Once they began playing their island-tinged instrumentals, the whole crowd swayed to the beat.

Interestingly, it’s due to Harris that the Bamboo Café even exists. He’s the very brother whom the company founder first began to treat with cannabis edibles. Beaming, the siblings recounted how the early experiments with Tastee Treats helped Harris regulate his sleep cycle and manage other symptoms of his epilepsy, also reducing his likelihood of seizures.

“She completely turned my life around,” Harris said of his sister.

Cannabis Tinctures and Epilepsy Treatment

Numerous studies have found that cannabis is effective, particularly cannabis oil, in treating symptoms of epilepsy. Even the first FDA-recommended cannabinoid medication, Epidiolex, was approved for just this purpose.

According to the founder, when Harris took strictly prescription medication for his epilepsy, he experienced side effects like grogginess, mood swings, and hair loss. Worse still, she says that her brother "is unable to create" when he takes only these medicines. On a cannabinoid regimen using her tinctures, he doesn't experience any of these side effects.

"With the tincture on the correct [regimen] he has no side effects and his hair grew back in and he's able to create," the founder reports. She notes that most of Harris's epilepsy seizures occur in his sleep, and her cannabis tinctures relax his nerves for improved sleep, severely reducing the likelihood of having a seizure.

"His epilepsy isn't completely cured because he still gets [seizures] from time to time," she adds. "If he doesn't take the tinctures regularly, he will [flare] up."

The Bamboo Café in 2022

2022 will be a big year for the Bamboo team. In addition to the excitement surrounding the cafe’s launch, the founder will also be hosting a livestreamed podcast, Tastee Talks. Despite the Omicron surge disrupting the daily operations of New York’s event venues and clubs, all hands are on deck to work toward applying for a coveted social equity license. They already have a demonstrable head start, having been granted a license in Washington, D.C., and the expertise with New York’s legacy market (they organized the city’s first craft cannabis competition), combined with the founder’s business acumen and compassion, are sure to make Bamboo an industry standout.

Just like the plant for which it’s named, the Bamboo Café has seen its seeds planted and tenderly cared for, while lying in wait for just the right moment to grow. It’s time now for those shoots to spring forward, bringing wellness, blissfulness, and indomitable energy. Happy Bamboo Year.

The Bamboo Cafe and Lounge is now open 5 days a week, operating the lounge at night with smoking accessories and merchandise. 1, 3-month and annual memberships are available. Visitors can reach out to Bamboo Cafe to host a private event, book studio time with an engineer of their choice. Look out for Bamboo Cafe’s Health & Wellness Center, Livestream podcast and Tastee Talks, coming soon. For more information and answers to questions, follow @bamboocafe_bk on Instagram or @bamboocafebk (Bamboo Event Space) on Facebook.

Featured image: The Bamboo Cafe mural: A work in progress. (C) Woken Arts / Tastee Treats Co™