Hemp Dog Cafe: Virginia's first hemp food cart

Published: Jun. 11, 2014 at 6:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2014 at 6:25 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana, cannabis businesses boomed. Now some Richmond entrepreneurs want to turn that trend into a new restaurant.

The Hemp Dog Cafe debuted at the Richmond Bacon Festival on Sunday with hot dog buns made from hemp: hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp flour. And yes, it's legal.

"When people come up and they see hemp, they typically get worried at first," said Hemp Dog Cafe chef Sean Murphy. "It's associated with the marijuana plant a lot."

Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, but hemp has only trace amounts of THC, the chemical that can make you high.

"Hemp is more like bamboo. It grows to be 13 feet tall. And you cannot smoke it," explains Cindy Sheaffer, owner of Hemp Dog Cafe.

Researchers say eating hemp has health benefits. "Hemp has the omegas: omega 6, omega 3 and omega 9. Hemp meets the body's daily requirement of both essential fatty acids and protein," said Sheaffer.

These entrepreneurs hope to turn the Hemp Cog Cafe cart into a full restaurant at 202 West Broad Street in Richmond this fall and eventually open more cafes near college campuses.

"We will have a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Things like hemp waffles, hemp pancakes, of course we'll have the hemp dog, pot pies," Sheaffer told us.

There have been other hemp restaurants, like the Galaxy in Manhattan, and others in Japan, Australia, and Bangkok.

You've probably already seen hemp foods in local stores. We found a variety of them in The Fresh Market in Carytown, including hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp cereal.

To make hemp products, many manufacturers use hemp grown in other countries. But there is an effort to legalize growing industrial hemp in Virginia, just like farmers did in early America.

And now you can bite into a Hemp Dog when you see the cart in the community and when their restaurant opens.

"Let me know what you want to eat," said Murphy. "That's who I'm trying to feed. I'm willing to cook it all."

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