Inside the First SoCal Store of Jay-Z-Backed Cannabis Brand Caliva (Exclusive)

Deli By Caliva - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Deli by Caliva

Caliva officially opens its New York deli-themed dispensary on Thursday in Bellflower, California.

Jay-Z's cannabis brand of choice has opened the doors of its first Southern California store. 

Caliva, which brought on the rapper as chief brand strategist in July, is debuting its Deli by Caliva dispensary in Bellflower, California, just outside Los Angeles, with a grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday. 

The name of the store is inspired by its Deli weed line that launched in January. The theme is mirrored in an old-fashioned New York deli design concept: a mint green color palette, glass window counters displaying different flowers and cafe stools for guests.

"We wanted to create something that was reminiscent of those early delis you saw from the 1950s," says store manager Joshua Estrada to The Hollywood Reporter. "I kind of equate it to like if we took that deli from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — it's that neighborhood vibe. They've got the rabbi, right? It's one of those moments, the neighborhood celebrating those spaces. We wanted to also play on that."

Guests enter the white-lit store — the exterior of which features a mural reading "Make Your Daily Special" — and take a ticket from a vintage-style machine and grab a metal grocery basket. They can then peruse the offerings from a refrigerator, including drinks (CBD coffee from Somatik and THC infused Hi-Fi Hops from Lagunitas, $8 each) or chocolate bars (Chill's cannabis milk chocolate with THC for $15).

The walls are lined with goods from several L.A.-based companies, boutique greenhouses and family farms, as well as classic Caliva products such as the Toasties Classic pre-rolls ($15), Dogwalkers pre-rolls ($15), premium Bad Apple flowers (3.5 grams for $45) and the Deli collection (including the Mendo Breath, Cookies and Watermelon Zkittlez). At $160 for 28 grams the Deli flowers come in retro mint green tins with branding to match the store's neon sign reading, "Fresh Cuts Daily." 

Customers can browse the menu on iPads or chat with a budtender for recommendations (hint: their bestsellers are the Alien OG and Blackjack). In true millennial fashion, Caliva also sells graphic tees and totes to match the mural outside ($20-$25), exclusive to L.A.  

Deli has been in development since early 2019, meaning Jay-Z didn't have a hand in the retro retailer, but is expected to bring his ideas to life in 2020. 

"As a major Shawn Carter fan, I could not be more ecstatic personally to be working for Caliva and to be working now with Jay-Z in a collaborative effort. The entire company is just thrilled beyond words," says Elizabeth Cooksey, svp of retail for Caliva. "It's so very new. There are a lot of conversations happening with him."

So is a Jay-Z product line or concept store on the way? "Nothing is off the table right now. We are really eager to see how high is high," she says. "He is such an innovator and such an artist that we look forward to partnering and taking his point of view and perspective into account as we grow our product line and our retail experience." (John Legend, Drake, Whoopi Goldberg and Snoop Dogg are among the other stars to get into the cannabis business). 

The Deli store joins another San Jose dispensary from Caliva, and their products are available for delivery within 10 miles. "We lucked out because we're new. We have some flavors that you can't find, because they're sold out [elsewhere]," Estrada says, pointing to the elusive Watermelon Zkittlez as an example.

Cooksey adds that the deli theme was natural. "Because we had a cool namesake already called Deli, it was like let's play that up and lean into that sort of tongue-in-cheek notion of how a customer experiences a typical food deli, a sandwich deli, sitting at the counter top," she tells THR. "We will also have deals like you go to a deli and you have the pie a la mode, like the apple pie this week and peach cobbler the next week. ... We want this to feel like a neighborhood, familiar, comfortable joint, pardon the pun."

Deli by Caliva; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9535 Artesia Blvd, Bellflower, Calif.;

Nov. 21, 11:15 a.m.: Updated Jay-Z's involvement with Caliva.