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How Smoke and Mirrors became the gold standard for cannabis lounges

1st non-tribal consumption lounge in Vegas
Smoke and Mirrors cannabis consumption lounge

About Smoke and Mirrors

You can’t say “Vegas” without picturing iconic attractions like the Strip, the Fountains of Bellagio, and the Sphere. From eating to gambling to sightseeing to sleeping, everything is an experience in Las Vegas.

Now, consuming cannabis is too.

Smoke and Mirrors is the 1st state-regulated, non-tribal cannabis lounge in Las Vegas. The lounge is a child of labor and love from the minds at Thrive Cannabis Marketplace.

After over 7 years of behind-the-scenes work, Smoke and Mirrors opened its doors February 23, 2024 and immediately set the standard for experiential cannabis lounges.

“This has been the most challenging project I’ve worked on at Thrive,” said John Ermenio, Director of Growth and Strategy at Thrive. “But it has also been the most rewarding.”

On opening day, Smoke and Mirrors made history with their inaugural purchase at 4:20 p.m. made by Clark County Commission Chairman Tick Segerblom—sparking a photo opp. that sent waves through the industry.

Smoke and Mirrors
Image source: Las Vegas Sun News

Within days, it was clear Smoke and Mirrors was a hit. “Everybody wants a job. Everybody wants reservations. Everybody wants to find out more about this place,” explained Tushumbe Wilson, General Manager at Smoke and Mirrors.

After speaking with the executives and staff at Smoke and Mirrors, here’s an inside look at what makes this cannabis lounge special.

Elevating vintage Vegas

Between regulatory hurdles and a steep learning curve, the primary challenge for John and team was determining how to stand out in Vegas, a city that’s packed with things to do.

“We had to figure out what type of people would have an appetite for this,” John explained. “What can we provide to the customer outside of weed to make the experience better than consuming at their homes?”

The answer: Smoke and Mirrors offers much more than weed, they’re selling a world-class experience.

Smoke and Mirrors isn't just a Vegas bucket list item. It weaves education and cannabis culture into the fabric of the city, enriching the experiences of visitors and locals alike.

John describes the lounge’s aesthetic as “a blend of legendary vintage Vegas hospitality mixed with the innovative world of cannabis.”

You see those details in every aspect of the decor, and even down to the music. “Smoke and Mirrors is a space to explore and experiment with cannabis consumption,” John said. “It’s also a place to discover new music or experience songs you love in an elevated setting and state of mind.”

Smoke and Mirrors mixology

Patrons at Smoke and Mirrors have access to a mix of classic cannabis menu items like joints, dabs, and bong rips. There's also have a cafe with regular or infused espresso, alongside a first-of-its-kind mocktail program, featuring cocktails infused with precision-dosed distillates.

Ashley Ooh, a Mixologist behind the lounge's bar has found her new job, “similar to being a bartender, except working with cannabis is way more fun.”

“If you asked me 11 years ago this is where I'd be, standing across from someone who's ripping a bong while I serve them infused drinks, I’d say you were crazy. This is a dream come true.”

Ashley Ooh
Mixologist at Smoke and Mirrors

Ashley Ooh

Ashley and team go a step beyond "dosed drinks" through experimentation with the flavors and effects of terpenes. She mentioned there is a whole world of combinations that offer both familiar and brand new flavor profiles.

Smoke and Mirrors

“You can draw comparisons between different terpenes and traditional tastes associated with alcohol. For example, we have a mixer in the back that tastes very similar to absinthe. I’m able to draw from past bartending experiences to create new drinks that taste like a cocktail, but instead of getting you drunk, they elevate you.”

Weed > booze

In a city that’s synonymous with overindulging, many Smoke and Mirrors staff members came from the Las Vegas food and beverage industry. They all acknowledged this lounge is a safe haven from the craziness that follows alcohol consumption.

“I’m not dealing with drunk people anymore. Now I deal with happy people,” said Tushumbe Wilson.

Legal cannabis is already a formidable competitor to alcohol. Cannabis already brings in more tax revenue than alcohol in 9 states—and that number is only expected to rise.

Smoke and Mirrors cannabis consumption lounge

Smoke and Mirrors isn’t just a safe space for cannabis consumers, the staff reap the benefits of this laid-back environment too.

“The people you deal with are very different from a regular bar. I used to have to drag people out at closing time, but now I have to kindly remind people that they’re physically able to move. It’s pretty funny and a lot more mellow.”

Learning and flowing

The onboarding process at Smoke and Mirrors was “interesting,” according to John. “We mainly brought on people from the hospitality industry who had to get up to speed on cannabis. This is a totally different game, particularly when it comes to the compliance portion of our business.”

Luckily, Smoke and Mirrors is powered by Flowhub, the stoner proof dispensary growth platform.

“We’d be in trouble without Flowhub. They came through in a short amount of time to build out an outstanding platform for our cannabis lounge.”

John Erminio
Director of Growth & Strategy at Thrive

john erminio headshot

Flowhub’s built-in compliance features reduce risk for Smoke and Mirrors to limit overselling, verify customer age, and auto-apply discounts.

Flowhub's specific Cannabis Lounge workflow enables Smoke and Mirrors to add multiple customers to a table, send multiple orders to fulfillment, keep a running tab of each customer’s orders, and check them out at the end. The process is designed specifically for cannabis lounges to ensure operations are seamless for customers and staff, while maintaining compliance for the business.

Flowhub consumption lounge workflow

While staff members like Ashley note the early days, “have been a learning curve for everybody,” the lounge is already up and running smoothly. “Customers are happy and the staff are learning so fast.”

“Without Flowhub, it would have been very difficult for our lounge to be in business the way it is now.”

John Erminio
Director of Growth & Strategy at Thrive

john erminio headshot

We’re glad Smoke and Mirrors is open and thriving, and we are proud to support their revolutionary cannabis lounge concept. 💚

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