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New cannabis dispensary in Long Island City pays homage to NYC Subway

NYC Bud celebrated the opening of its subway-themed legal adult-use cannabis dispensary. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Feb. 19, 2024 By Gabriele Holtermann

NYC Bud, Long Island City’s first legal adult-use cannabis dispensary, opened its Instagram-worthy store on Friday at 44-45 Vernon Blvd.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The store’s design pays homage to the NYC subway, and no attention to detail was spared to create an MTA transit-themed store.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

A green railing fence leads to the store, complete with “subwayish” signage and lighting globe. Upon entering, customers are greeted by “Tokin” booth 420 -the number pays tribute to “Weed Day” on 4/20. The interior is a throwback to an MTA subway station from yesteryear, complete with graffiti from classic ’80s artists, a vintage subway bench, and a graffiti-covered life-sized subway car with moving doors. The ATMs resemble MTA vending machines, and the pick-up counter is designed like an old-fashioned subway newsstand. And since a subway station wouldn’t be complete without its house resident, the rat, interdisciplinary theatre artist Jonothon Lyons, AKA “Buddy the Rat,” entertained the crowd on opening day, complementing the subway atmosphere without the yuck factor. 

Jonothon Lyons, AKA Buddy the Rat, entertained the crowd at NYC Bud grand opening. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Co-owner Jonpaul Pezzo told Queens Courier that he and his co-owners are “old school” New York, and the design pays homage to the city they grew up in.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“We’re from that era before cell phones,  you know when you rode the subways, that was hanging out, you went to the parks, you did the graffiti and did the drinking,” Pezzo said. “I’m stuck in the past. I listen to old-school music, old-school hip-hop, old-school house, so we just went with that vibe. We’re old; touch on the most iconic thing in New York, which is the subway system.”

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Pezzo explained that they cut up an old bus and refurbished the steel to build the subway car. 

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“We did a lot of research. We went to the Transit Museum, looked at all the old trains; we got it down to the advertising slipping in here for each brand,” Pezzo said.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Pezzo admitted it was a long and difficult road because of the lawsuits and injunctions.

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“We were in a very unique position that our rent wasn’t that high,” Pezzo said. “Our landlord worked with us and gave us a few months to build out. So we were cutting it close to the edge, and we were really down to fumes in the pockets, but we made it here.”

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The one-of-a-kind dispensary will surely become a destination for content creators and ganja aficionados alike. NYC Bud offers a wide variety of cannabis products ranging from flowers, pre-rolls, and vapes to edibles and tinctures from New York state cannabis growers. 

NYC Bud offers a wide variety of cannabis products. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Cannabis purveyors Noomi Rana and Zion Voss established their company Zizzle in 2020 and grow their product at their farm in Ithaca. 

Zizzle founders Noomi Rana and Zion Voss. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Per Voss, Zizzle’s slogan is “New York’s original Cannabis Company.”  The company started with CBD pre-rolls and transitioned to THC pre-rolls and flowers.  

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“We’ve been chasing this dream for many, many years,” the Queens native said. “And we’re making it happen here in the communities of New York City and supplying soft genetics and clean, safe cannabis to all of the consumers. And we’re proud to be doing so.”

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Voss described NYC Bud’s interior design as revolutionary. 

The ATM machines resemble MTA vending machines. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“I think that [NYC Bud] is one of the most creative dispensaries and innovative ideas,” Voss said. “I think they’re breaking through with customer experience. I think something in terms of even tourism plays a factor when you come into a dispensary like this.” 

The checkout counter at NYC Bud subway-themed cannabis dispensary resembles a subway newsstand. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Kosta Stergiopoulos from Astoria stopped by to get some merchandise and “medicine.”  

“[NYC Bud] fits New York to a tee; everyone’s going to feel at home over here,” Stergiopoulos said. “It’s a beautiful New York-themed design. It makes everyone feel like it’s part of a daily ritual of taking transportation, getting your butt, and going home, right?”

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