The largest Black-owned nightlife chain in the United States, Cru Lounge, just opened in the French Quarter, and it’s on its way to becoming New Orleans’s first destination offering a full range of CBD products from hookah and gummies to pre-rolled hemp joints.
Cru is an Atlanta-born “fast-casual hookah-hemp lounge” with dozens of locations in the U.S., mostly in the South. Located at 301 Decatur Street, the nightclub replaces a former Wille’s Chicken Shack, dropping the notorious local chain’s number of French Quarter locations down to five. It’s the first of three Cru Lounge locations planned for Louisiana, according to RestaurantNews.com.
The nightlife empire was founded by Atlanta-based entrepreneur Dennis McKinley, who appeared on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for a few seasons as reality star Porsha Williams’s then-fiancé (though the nuptials were eventually called off) and also owns a popular hot dog chain called the Original Hot Dog Factory. The interior is stylish, with grand columns anchoring the main floor, walls covered in fake ivy, and a ceiling made of embellished metal tiles.
Cru serves fancy versions of typical bar food, like lobster mac and cheese and lamb chop lollipops, but also six kinds of wings and, locally, po’ boys. Over-the-top “Crutails” with names like “Loving the Cru” and “Between the Streets” are sometimes topped with candy, like Sour Punch Straws or peach rings, which is a running theme — the chain’s hookah menu includes various gummy bear flavors as well as Fruity Pebbles, blueberry vanilla ice cream, and kiwi, among others. Hookah, which will be offered soon, can be infused with CBD oil, and the New Orleans location also plans to offer hemp flower pre-rolls and CBD gummies. Cru’s CBD products, like those sold at smoke shops and other spots, are required to contain less than 0.03 percent THC under federal and state guidelines.
Cru Lounge is open at the corner of Decatur and Bienville Streets daily; until 1 a.m. on weekdays, 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and midnight on Sunday, with plans to serve weekend brunch.