Pivoting to Pot. One Hospitality Veteran Sees a Future in Cannabis.
Michael Hewitt, when he used to be able to dine out.
Michael Hewitt, the founder of the hospitality talent placement agency One Haus, has lost 80% of his business since the start of the pandemic. It’s understandable. His bread and butter is the work of placing chefs, general managers, service directors, and CEOs in restaurants across the country, which are, for the most part, uniformly shuttered.
Like many in the hospitality industry, Hewitt has been thinking a lot about how to pivot. And thinks he’s figured out the answer—cannabis. Hewitt’s newest platform—Green Haus—will partner with dispensaries across the country looking to hire all sorts of positions ideal for the hospitality industry.
Hewitt says front of house servers, waiters, and sommeliers are well matched for service-oriented roles like retail manager and dispensary manager, cannabis consumption lounger director, or even procurement manager, or purchasing manager. Upper management might look to roles like CFO, COO, CEO, Cannabis VP of Compliance, Retail GM, Dir. of Cannabis Operations. Even back of the house can get involved with positions like Cannabis Chef, creating edibles, sweets, and treats and infusions. Hewitt says salary ranges for Director of Operations level roles are comparable to the restaurant industry in the $75K-85K range.
“It’s going to be a while before hospitality is back,” he said, over the phone from home where he lives with his two kids and wife, an educator. “This initiative comes out of a desire to assist displaced hospitality professionals with an alternative career path, open up a new sector for my team, and provide potential clients with a new relevant talent pool.”
Hewitt says the pivot to Cannabis came to him on a pre-COVID trip to Los Angeles. “I visited a couple of dispensaries in LA and that is where the lightbulb hit me,” he said. “These are fancy shops. It’s not like frat row or some hippies in Birkenstocks. These are beautiful businesses and they need service professionals.”
The more Hewitt thought about it the more it made sense. “This is a consumer-facing business,” he said. “You are selling a product, and it’s all about the experience, almost like a boutique chocolatier or beautiful boutique wine store. You are selling a product with different varieties, and you need to be knowledgeable of each strain. There is hospitality involved and you want to have a highly-trained, service-oriented team in place to set your business apart. That’s what we in the restaurant industry do best.”
Hewitt is of course maintaining his core business of hospitality placement, but says this business is at the beginning of its lifespan, which is an exciting time to get involved. He is already in contact with a few dispensaries and he encourages anyone looking for work to reach out to him through his One Haus website.
“There is a lot of growth in this field, it is just at the beginning. Like restaurants, it starts with dispensaries and then they become multi-unit with the same brand name and then corporate offices and cannabis cafes and that's where culinary comes in with edibles and infusions and sweets.”
Hewitt also says this may prove to be a turning point for many in the industry looking for a different kind of lifestyle. “It’s a different life, a good quality of life, not so many crazy hours, with a good upward trajectory. It's an industry in its infancy.”