If you’re a stoner and traveling to Los Angeles for the first time, there’s one place you can always rely on for top-shelf cannabis: Cookies. Created by Bay Area native Berner and grow expert Jai, Cookies has positioned itself to be the biggest legal cannabis empire, with over 45 retail locations across five countries.
Now, Cookies is making history once again, opening its doors to its flagship downtown L.A. location. Located at 915 Venice Blvd, Cookies DTLA serves as the biggest Cookies store in the world.
It was thanks to a social equity program that owners Peter Sobat and Blake Taylor were able to open shop. As the story goes: Sobat taught high school for one year at St. Bernard’s, the only black high school in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Taylor was his student, who joined Sobat after graduation, working with various artists such as Snoop Dogg and B-Real.
Eventually, Sobat and Taylor created Doobieville, a delivery service in Downtown Los Angeles, before joining forces to launch The Bakerie.
The Bakerie is a premiere cannabis brand that controls an entire corner of downtown Los Angeles (over 30,000 square feet), offering cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, a rooftop sky lounge — and now, a Cookies retail storefront.
Immediately upon walking in, you see the beautiful 1964 Impala that was used in DJ Khaled’s HIGHER” music video featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend.
Los Angeles Magazine spoke with Sobat and Taylor about the launch of Cookies DTLA.
Los Angeles Magazine: First of all, congrats on opening the biggest Cookies store in the world.
Blake Taylor: It’s been a long ride. It’s definitely been awesome to build this big establishment and to serve our community. We want to look out for people as a neighborhood brand. It’s a big beautiful store to do that for them.
How did you both get involved in the cannabis business?
Taylor: About 12 years ago, Peter was a film teacher for me back in high school. A couple of years later, he wanted to intern when he was working at B-Real TV. I hit him up and came to intern for him. I was working on the video/film editing side with him for a while, for a couple of years. He opened up Blurred Culture and worked with him there. Through there, started getting into the cannabis game. We tried opening up a grow somewhere else, but it didn’t work out.
What does it mean to open the store as part of the social equity program?
Taylor: Social equity is basically helping out people who have been locked up for charges wrongfully, obviously now because it’s legal. Either that or you live in an area that’s been impacted by the drug war. I happened to fall under that pretense, and we made that happen. That’s how we got the license, the Social Equity Program. Because of where I live and my background, that’s how I became part-owner of the store. It’s been amazing.
Peter Sobat: That was cool as hell, man. Because Blake was my student, that was wild that even a teacher and a student had the opportunity to do what we were doing. That’s a whole story within itself. I’m not going to sit here and say the social equity program has really worked out for most people. There’s been a lot of predatory behavior. Most social equity people have failed. So, having this actually be a social equity situation that worked, and also being able to jump in with a really good brand, man that’s special.
What was the process of opening a Cookies store?
Taylor: It took so long with the whole process of filing for the license and getting it. It was bittersweet, but more sweet obviously because we finally were able to get open and be here. It’s still setting in, but it’s definitely been an experience.
Sobat: Originally, we were going to open the retail under my brand, The Bakerie. After an impromptu meeting with Matt Barron of 12 12 Ventures and Parker Berlington, President of Cookies, we decided to make our retail blue. We were able to secure investment from the absolute best investor in the cannabis space Jason Wild. His trust and faith in us gave us the momentum we needed to open the flagship Cookies store in Los Angeles.
Talk about Cookies being a recognizable brand in cannabis.
Taylor: Cookies just makes you feel good. Even people who don’t know much about cannabis, they know Cookies. They feel comfortable coming in here to a Cookies store to get their cannabis because they know it’s a trusted source of the business. When those people come in, they meet our budtenders, receptionist, and managers — they make them feel really welcome and comfortable.
Sobat: People love Cookies. You have die-hard Cookies people that when you drop a strain, they literally show up. They’re anticipating the drops, so they have a built-in fanbase that’s pretty fucking wild.
Was the intention behind creating the biggest Cookies store?
Sobat: It was the absolute intention. We want to have the flagship Cookies store. We’re trying to be Pink’s. We’re trying to be Roscoe’s. We’re trying to be a Los Angeles landmark. We’re not fucking around. If you’re gonna go do something, you got to go ten toes down.
Talk about the Nipsey Impala in the middle of the store. How’d you get your hands on that?
Long Beach Loyd has a car club, down in Long Beach for obvious reasons. He had this 64 Impala they called the Nipsey Impala. The reason they call it the Nipsey Impala is because it was in Nipsey Hussle’s last music video with DJ Khaled. That 64 also was in the funeral progression for Nipsey when he passed, so that was really important. That was really important for us to bring that into the store to show an authentic Los Angeles vibe. We want to be a very L.A. store.
Quite frankly, I can’t think of anyone, maybe outside of Snoop Dogg, that’s more iconic than Nipsey Hussle when it comes to Los Angeles.
You’re also the first LEED dispensary, what does this mean?
Taylor: It means going green. Everything is energy-saving. The lights are motion sensors. They turn off when you leave, and turn on when you come in. Automatic water so nobody’s wasting water by leaving the faucet on. Everything like that.
Do you feel it’s hard to survive as a dispensary these days? Because there are so many.
Taylor: Oh yeah, it’s so oversaturated. Not only that, [but] the taxes you have to pay on the backend to the government. Because they gotta get their share, you know? That makes it even harder. But that’s why we joined teams with Cookies, because they already had the game plan set out and laid out for us. We’re making it work.
Sobat: It wasn’t the mass excitement that we anticipated or really thought it was going to transpire, but that logo still brings in a lot of traffic. It’s a logo that people see it and they trust it. Without that, we’d be in deep shit.
Peter compared your guys’ story to Breaking Bad?
Taylor: Me and Peter’s story is like Breaking Bad in real life, since he was my teacher back in the day. We got together years later and started growing weed and selling it. It’s the Breaking Bad of weed.
Sobat: Not in a million years would I have ever thought a kid from Pittsburgh, who came out here 20 years ago, would open a Cookies store in Los Angeles with my former student.
Anything else you’re excited about?
Sobat: Man, I’m really excited to get Berner’s ass down there, he’s been fucking around. [Laughs] Can’t get down to the store and make all that noise for us. I’m also really excited for the basketball season to start, hockey season to start, and for us to really get crackin’. I know USC’s getting back … we need to activate all these points of interest. Have a lot of fun; make a lot of noise.