With the recent marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization emerging in many regions, stoner culture is swiftly returning from the fringe. A new restaurant on University Avenue is looking to take advantage of this growing market as CHeBA Hut, a growing sandwich chain, taking the meaning of toasted to a higher level.
The walls of CHeBA Hut are lined with posters of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and even the logo of Zig Zag, a rolling paper company. The music ranges in genre but generally sticks to either a mellow or psychedelic vibe. With bamboo-like accents and brightly colored walls, CHeBA Hut seems to aim for a tropical bungalow-type aesthetic. It clashes somewhat with the various American counterculture posters, but it gives the place a unique feel.
The entire establishment is rife with unabashed references to marijuana. The napkin holder, for example, has a picture of Oscar from “Sesame Street” with a caption below reading, “I am made of marijuana.” Suggestive terms everywhere are sandwiched into quotations, ranging from “green” to “toasted.” The theme is somewhat juvenile in execution, and feels as though it was designed by a high school student. That said, there is a certain novelty to seeing such overt references. Marijuana references have been relegated to euphemism in most media and design, and some might appreciate the CHeBA Hut as a bold counter to this trend.
CHeBA Hut’s stands out in that it is completely family un-friendly. This shouldn’t prove much of an issue to Badgers; in fact, some might find it alluring. Interestingly, though, CHeBA Hut is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It’s surprising such an eatery wouldn’t stay open later, at least on weekends.
While the University of Wisconsin neighborhood has no shortage of sandwich shops, CHeBA Hut offers a different experience from most. Many shops are very similar to Jimmy John’s, with students swearing allegiance to one restaurant or the other based on the marginal differences between them. CHeBA Hut offers conventional sandwich choices, such as La Canna, their take on the classic Italian-style sandwich named after a coffee shop in Amsterdam. The joint also offers a variety of unique sandwiches featuring unusual ingredients, including their token hemp cream cheese. CHeBA Hut takes pride in personally making much of its seasonings and sauces, like their marinara and barbecue sauces.
Perhaps one of the greatest draws of CHeBA Hut is the completeness of its menu. While many restaurants have specialties and then some items on the periphery for occasional customers, almost everything on CHeBA Hut’s menu is worth buying. Its “incredible munchies” menu, for example, includes some delicious desserts, like hemp seed-topped brownies. Instead of one or two vegetarian options, the shop boasts five. Nothing on its menu appears to be an afterthought, and the Hut’s selection is substantially larger than rival shops.
CHeBA Hut employees certainly boost the eatery’s appeal. Willing to talk your ear off about sandwich choices, how their week is going or whatever comes to mind, CHeBA Hut has some of the most amicable employees of any near-campus restaurant. For customers not up for conversation, most tables have copies of High Times for some light reading.
Most restaurants draw a certain type of crowd — and some have a very specific clientele — generating a love or hate reaction with most customers. CHeBA Hut is likely to fall into a similar category. To some, it is a haven: a place to eat after a few rips without judgment, an eatery specifically catering to stoners rather than the many eateries that at least partially cater to drinkers. To others, any of the many more mainstream sandwich shops might remain more attractive. Regardless, the food at the CHeBA Hut is tasty enough it’s worth at least one hit.