Downtown St. Louis has a new cannabis-themed, fast-casual restaurant determined to become a wide-reaching brand. Fried opened on Washington Avenue on April 11, featuring savory and sweet fried foods and signature CBD-infused sauces.

“We knew that this was a new market and this is our first cannabis-themed restaurant of many. It’s very kitschy and loud,” co-owner Derek Schulze says. “What we’ve found is that cannabis is magnetic. It’s one of those things that a lot of different people come together around.”

The concept comes from Schulze (of Red Oak Biscuits) and his childhood friend Rick Brown, who is a co-owner and serves as the general manager. Fried fills the space that was Red Oak’s original home before the concept relocated to Cherokee Street, with around 30 seats inside and another 16 on a front patio. Pernikoff Construction Co. was the general contractor, and Schulze brought his own touches to the interior, which he dubs a “stoner palace” with art deco details and framed pop-culture references to coincide with a dispensary-themed menu.

“We wanted the experience of our food to mirror the experience of a dispensary. If you go to a dispensary, you’re presented with all sorts of options in an approachable environment,” Schulze says. “You start with a nugget and have different sauces to choose from named after strains. The nuggets are available in sizes such as a nickel, dime or dub.”

The menu features late-night style American street food with Southern influences. Chicken nuggets, for instance, feature chicken from Buttonwood Farm marinated overnight in buttermilk and breaded in flour with a special seasoning blend. Catfish nuggets are coated with a cornmeal breading, while tofu and cauliflower come with a tempura batter. Sauce options, available optionally with CBD, include highlights such as Fire OG, or a take on Buffalo sauce. White Widow is a housemade buttermilk ranch, while Hindu Kush is a curry mayo. 

Nuggets are available on their own or as a bowl or burrito, and a few sandwiches are also options. Sides include mac ’n’ cheese, fried pickles and fries that are boiled in vinegar and water before hitting the fryer, resulting in crunchy, airy fries. For dessert, choose from fried Oreos, cookies and Twinkies.

Brunch is available on Sundays featuring items such as chicken and waffles, deep-fried French-toast sticks and pancake roll-ups filled with sausage. Red Oak Biscuits’ baked goods will also make an appearance in items such as biscuit donuts and savory breakfast sandwiches.

Fried hopes to incorporate a CBD-infused liquor program in the future as well, pending a liquor license. Brown, who bartended for two years at Kingston Mines in Chicago, has developed signature drinks such as Chonic Iced Tea with Jeremiah Weed, lemonade and CBD.

To further develop the Fried brand, Schulze and Brown intend to wholesale their signature sauce “strains” to grocery stores and dispensaries. The business partners will also expand their outreach with Baked Bar, a health and wellness-focused cannabis café featuring items such as pastries infused with CBD.

“I think we’re just excited that this culture’s out in the open, and I think it excites other people too to have a safe space to come and participate in the culture that is cannabis,” Schulze says. “It’s been overwhelming how receptive people are to it.”

Fried’s current hours of operation are Wednesday from 11am to 10pm, Thursday through Saturday from 11am to 1am and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

Fried, 1330 Washington Ave., Downtown, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.339.5070, stayfried.com

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