Coming out first on our latest Chicago’s best independent dispensaries list, Grasshopper Club is a new crowd’s favorite in the Logan Square neighborhood. As the first black-owned dispensary in Chicago, the family behind the concept hopes to present a different dispensary identity from their competitors. This 4:20, Grasshopper Club has even partnered with their neighboring businesses for a one-of-a-kind celebration: a block party! With receipts from partnering businesses during the required timeframe, guests can redeem special discounts at the dispensary and other participants through the rest of April.
With so many cool things happening around Grasshopper Club, how can we pass the opportunity on introducing this new dispensary in Chicago to our amazing readers? Without further ado, enjoy a fun conversation between our Managing Editor and Matthew, one of the masterminds behind Grasshopper!
Q (UrbanMatter): Thank you for joining us today! Let’s start with some background information. How long have you been in the cannabis business?
A (Grasshopper Club): I first got into cannabis in 2014 when the state legalized medical cannabis and opened up an application for groups to apply for medical licenses. I was part of a team that applied, and that was my first exposure to the industry and its growth potential. You could look at other states like California and see where the country was going, but 2014 was the first time I really got exposed to it.
Then, when the state legalized recreational in 2019, I thought it could be a real opportunity to jump in, so I spoke with my mom and my brother, who were both partial owners of Grasshopper Club. We put together a group and applied for licenses and were fortunate enough to win three licenses through the lottery. And there we were, off to the races!
Q: Was the licensing process a challenge for you?
A: The tough thing was we applied at the end of 2019 and were supposed to learn the results in May 2020. And then covid happened. But even on top of that, a lot of people challenged the licensing process through lawsuits, which delayed the licensing even further. We didn’t get our licenses until July 2022, which was two and a half years of waiting. And even when it came, we weren’t expecting it. We were just waiting indefinitely, and one day we got an email saying we got the licenses. So everything became a fast sprint from that point to get everything ready to open as quickly as possible.
Q: Wow, that’s such a crazy experience. Now, we know how Chicago is: everywhere you go, there’s some dispensary, whether independently owned or as part of the corporate chain. So, how would you say Grasshopper Club differentiates itself from its competitors?
A: I think most dispensaries in Chicago have a very particular model. They have kiosks for customers to come in and order on a computer: there isn’t a lot of interaction and it assumes at some level that the customers coming in know what they want or they know how to order and find what they want. But we found out that was not true for a lot of customers, so our experience is very different. The second you walk in, there is a vibe: there’s energy in the air, there’s music, and there’s our lively staff…
Also, our shelves are designed to showcase different objects. For example, we are displaying a highly celebrated sneaker, Virgil Abloh Jordan 1, one of the iconic Chicago sneakers. You can also come and try the un-medicated gummies so at least you get to see what flavors and textures you’re getting into. Basically, our place looks and feels different. I tell people shopping at Grasshopper Club is more like ordering a drink at your favorite bar, rather than cashing a check. Our customers have said this was a place where you could stay for a while and have a conversation rather than grab and go.
Finally, one of our dispensary’s unique features is that we have a dedicated bar space built in our establishment for educational activations. For example, we might have one of our can-cierge, who just published a cookbook, stand behind the counter and host a session about infusing cannabis into cooking recipes. Or, we might invite someone to talk about products that may improve your sleep quality. Some topics may even go beyond cannabis but dive more into wellness, especially since we are right in front of the farmer’s market: there are so many products and brands we can work with.
Q: That’s awesome. Does that mean you’re also interested in creating more collaborations with businesses in the neighborhood?
A: In the longer term, we’d love to participate with other businesses as long as they all have the intention, curation, and craft that we believe to be consistent since we consider ourselves a hospitality-driven dispensary as far as the experience goes.
Q: Sweet! Now, why don’t you share with us one of the good moments you’ve had with Chicago’s cannabis community?
A: One of the best was when myself and some other friends in the industry all sat around one day, and had a bunch of different products. The whole idea was just for us to sit and experiment. It was basically a giant candy store of anything and everything you can imagine: any gummy, preroll, flower… It was really just a good chance for us to talk with each other and try out different things. But, you do enough of that over time, you get pretty stoned (lol.) It was the friendship, the comradery, and us studying the craft and the plant that made the good moment. And I see more and more of those communities around here. There’s friendship, brotherhood, and food and drinks at times, but still centers around the plant.
Q: Finally, how does it feel being the first black-owned dispensary in Chicago, and what are your plans down the road?
A: Well, it’s nice being the first — it’s a milestone. But it doesn’t mean anything if we go out of business next week. So we have a lot of work to do ahead, and we’re actively working right now to open a second location in the South Loop and hopefully a third location by the end of the year.
About Grasshopper Club’s 420 Collaboration
First of all, if you’re looking for the ultimate stoner food in Chicago, Grasshopper Club has partnered with Big Kids for “a Hoppy Meal” that will satisfy your cravings. Featuring a special “Grasshopper Club” Sandwich and Big Kids’ popular plant-based Ranch Scented Nuggz, The Hoppy Meal will be available from Thursday, 4/20 thru Sunday, 4/30.
Additionally, the Club is also facilitating a 420 Block Party, partnering with seven different local businesses. Customers showing a receipt dated between April 13 and April 23 from any participants will get a discount at Grasshopper Club, and vice versa*. Participating businesses include:
- Andros Taverna
- The Owl
- K Fire
- La Boulangerie
- Big Kids
- The Duplex
- New Wave Coffee
*discount based on each business.
Featured Image: Grasshopper Club