CULTURE

NYC: Pagoda Founder Eric Huang Poised to Unite People around Asian American Cannabis Culture

Pagoda -- not your average cannabis lounge.
Pagoda -- not your average cannabis lounge. /

New York is poised to lead the way in legal cannabis lounge action, which is a big deal.

A lot of the earlier legal markets across the U.S. stipulated that people had to consume cannabis at home.

Not only is that a hurdle for cannabis tourism, but it goes against a lot of what this plant has to teach us around community, coming together, getting curious, exchanging ideas, and learning from each other.

The story of Eric Huang and Pagoda is a perfect example.

One part cannabis lounge, one part Asian/Pacific Islander American (API) restaurant, one part music venue – the plan is to ultimately create a chain of Pagoda lounges across all legal states.

“We’re presenting a crossroads of the stories for a lot of Asian Americans out there, people who love food, music, and cannabis,” Huang says.

This vision has been simmering in Huang’s mind since his college days. 

“I was looking to see how I could best show up in this world and make an impact,” he says. “And I wanted to tell this story of being an Asian American stoner, who still had ambition and drive and wanted to do big things.”

Pagoda is about presenting our story and using it to help out others, Huang says, adding that the team is currently looking to align with like-minded investors.

Supporting BIPOC Communities

While Pagoda aims to be a celebration of cannabis and API culture, there is much more at play here.

Pagoda is all about community, focusing on two value-driven missions intent on making a major impact.

The first of these missions is all about supporting communities most affected by the war on drugs.

“By creating a platform in which people can really succeed through our business, whether it’s working with us, or franchising with us, or other opportunities, we are really looking to help push these communities forward and into the spotlight,” Huang says. 

“One of the things that we at Pagoda need to recognize is our privilege in the whole situation of cannabis, especially as Asian Americans, where a lot of our communities were not negatively affected by the drug war.”

As the founder of the Pagoda platform, Huang views it as a responsibility to help in any way he can. It’s a learning process, he says, where all sorts of opportunities are possible.

Educating the API Community on Cannabis

The second community-based mission of Pagoda, Huang notes, is to educate the API community on the benefits of cannabis. 

“A lot of our parents, and my grandparents especially, are not familiar with cannabis. What they were told about cannabis is largely negative,” Huang says. 

“We are really looking to help leverage our platform to educate them on the medicinal sides of cannabis and help them see alternatives – a sort of return to history if you will about cannabis and its usage in Asian culture.”

Huang grew up outside of Philadelphia with parents who were not very familiar with cannabis.

When his mom discovered pot in his room one day, it actually turned out for the best. “I’m lucky in that I was able to walk my parents through those conversations, and they eventually came around,” he says, adding that cannabis has been a big part of his life.

As with most cannabis lounges, Huang says, Pagoda will provide that comfortable, safe space for people to enjoy the herb, however it’s also about breaking down that stereotype of the stoner staying at home. 

“It’s about creating that social space for people to come and really partake in something that’s kind of been shrouded for a very long time.”

Secure Your Invite to Pagoda’s Big Event

On March 26, 2022, Pagoda is hosting a two-part event, starting with a three-hour dinner curated by 420 Chef Wendy Zeng, followed by an after-party.

You can sign up to receive an invite for tickets at Pagoda.nyc.

“This is for anyone interested in the cannabis space, or anyone who wants to look into entering the space, or anyone who wants to have a good time, a fun night,” Huang says.

“We’re all about creating an elevated experience with cannabis, breaking stigmas, showing a different story, bringing people together. Cannabis has the power to do that, and more people are realizing it.”

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