I want to start incorporating CBD oil onto my menu but have a pretty traditional/older clientele. Do you think it’s polarizing and that I’ll alienate my core customers?
– Chef-owner, Sea Isle City, N.J.
CBD oil (cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring component of cannabis, said to have many properties that aide in relaxation and anti-inflammation without the psychoactive properties of the better-known cannabis compound, THC. The compound is being used in an FDA-approved drug to treat epilepsy. It has also been appearing on more and more restaurant menus, often at hip fine-dining restaurants as well as in packaged food products. It is important to note that the legality of CBD oil is murky and varies by state and composition (generally containing less than 0.3% THC). It is also important to note that, even if CBD is legal to use, you should avoid making any specific health claim about what it can do for your guests. Further, as with any product on your menu, but especially with a new and controversial one, be sure to source from a reputable supplier to help ensure both the safety of your guests and your compliance with regulations.
If you decide to launch a CBD program, with respect to your question, I think it can be polarizing and needs to be rolled out thoughtfully. That said, I think it’s a mistake to assume that guests in an older demographic will be turned off by this offering. While cannabis culture has changed over their lifetime, baby boomers are often enthusiastic about anything cannabis, having grown up through marijuana culture in the U.S. Don’t underestimate them as a market.
My advice is twofold:
- Start with menu sections that are naturals for experimentation and creativity: the cocktail menu (if allowed) and the dessert menu.
- Make CBD an optional upcharge or addition, rather than committing fully to the ingredient. You don’t want to lose a cocktail or dessert sale because a favorite flavor has a CBD addition. Rather, you want to upsell a cocktail or dessert by adding a few drops of a flavored CBD oil.
As always, but especially when it comes to this topic, and when overlapping with your bar program, check with your attorney and restaurant association to be sure you’re in compliance with all regulations.
More on CBD cocktails here.