The Temescal neighborhood of North Oakland used to be designated as ‘Little Italy’ – where Italian immigrants once flocked to work in sanitation and construction. Nowadays, however, it’s one of the most lively neighborhoods in the larger Bay Area, featuring dozens of restaurants, buzzing bars and more recently, a lofty Cannabis retail space called Root’d in the 510.
Upon walking into Root’d, you’re immediately greeted with a SoCal-style design that awes the senses – so much so that it was recently written up in Architectural Digest. Painted a clean, gentle cream up to the bowstring rafters and letting in lots of that signature Oaktown sunshine, this airy dispo is much larger than some of the shops prior to adult-use legalization. It has serious LA vibes with sleek display cases and a centralized retail hub that makes navigating the hundreds of brands, strains and products a breezy browse (as opposed to the gate-kept, bank teller scenario that some shops still deploy). These aesthetics are right in line with the warm demeanor and friendly, open personality of the shop’s co-founder and CEO, Rickey McCullough.
As a Black man who grew up in the area, McCullough lived under decades of injustice and mismanagement of city resources – including policing. This context is why Oakland is more likely than other California cities to take active steps to make amends for its past. It’s also part of the thread that led him to eventually standing in City Hall holding an honest-to-god lottery ball with the winning digits for a license; he was an equity license applicant, petitioning for a retail operating business after a long tenure at Oakland’s Harborside.
Root’d in the 510 stocks all of the classics and has a few of the most popular strains, pre-rolls, and edibles ready to go for customers looking for a quick find with high quality. Favorites like Alien Labs, Ember Valley and Raw Garden are popular grabs, and the wellness bar has all the body products and bath bombs you need to really relax. But there’s more than meets the eye going on at this dispensary: Behind a wall in the back corner lies a massive space that McCullough and co-founder Daniel Chung are working hard to transform into one of the East Bay’s largest consumption lounges. I got a sneak peek at the space (which is currently under construction) and can honestly report that it’s going to be epic.
Once the time is right, a door within the dispensary will lead directly into this space – a wonderland complete with private rooms, a sweeping bar serving infused beverages, equipment rentals for special shared seshes, plenty of games and activities, and much more. There are plans for karaoke nights, private events and brand demos, as well as large-format movie screenings. These exciting extras will make the Root’d lounge more than some sexy smoke-friendly banquette that many ‘lounges’ are at their core. And as many of Cali’s attempts at Cannabis hospitality have been stymied by regulations, the crew at Root’d is taking a unique approach to providing food onsite: enlisting some of the many local and renowned restaurants to coordinate delivery. Why compete with local favorites when you can work together instead?
Until this enormous, gorgeous consumption lounge opens (by the end of the year, the partners say), the dispensary portion of the location will have to do … but honestly, that’s plenty. With a full selection and an innovative plan for expansion, Root’d is more than some new, flashy spot on the main drag of a busy area – it’s a symbol of an even brighter future for all Cannabis-loving Oaklanders. But even more importantly than that, it’s a BIPOC-owned and proudly visible space in a burgeoning industry that needs all the varying perspectives it can get, in order to keep busting down the status quo.