New Yorkers looking for pineapple and hemp lattes at MAMACHA Café will instead find paper-covered windows and locked doors. The Bowery café known for its CBD drinks and snacks closed amidst the city’s crackdown on CBD-infused edibles and beverages, and says it’s moving elsewhere. The café was co-owned by New York-based artist Eric Cahan as well as Nev Schulman and Laura Perlongo – best known for hunting down online lovers and liars on MTV’s Catfish. As for hunting down a new location for MAMACHA, its destination is still unknown.   

MAMACHA café sold CBD-infused snacks and hemp drinks with the option of adding CBD, as well as CBD-free trendy café snacks, like matcha and ube soft serve. The café had been open for just over a year before its closing, debuting in March of last year. 

MAMACHA’s closing came on the same day that the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began its official crackdown on CBD infused drinks and snacks. In December of last year, the Food and Drug Administration had announced that its own health code would prohibit the addition of CBD to food and drinks. NYC Health will start subjecting violators to fines on October 1. The department’s website states that all food and drink products containing CBD would have to be returned to the supplier or discarded. Co-owner Cahan has been outspoken about his opposition to the FDA’s stance on CBD-infused products, telling NYU Local in February, “I feel like the city is against us, it feels like they’re against small businesses.”

MAMACHA did not respond to our attempt to inquire about whether its closure is linked to the CBD crackdown. A visit to other Manhattan businesses that sell CBD-infused beverages revealed that some continue to sell the products.

MAMACHA’s short run on Bowery came with no shortage of legal run-ins. The café first came under fire for its name. Originally called MoMaCha, the name was an homage to its array of matcha flavored items. Still, the Museum of Modern Art slapped a lawsuit on the café for infringing on its nickname and logo. United States District Court Judge Louis L. Stanton ruled in MoMA’s favor in September 2018, prompting the café to change its name to MAMACHA.  

Only last month, MAMACHA faced another lawsuit from artist Dan Lam. Known for her “blobs,” “drips” and “squishes,” as she calls them, Lam’s touchable works were featured at MAMACHA café as part of an exhibit called “Hands On,” in March of last year. Guests could touch or even sit on some of her works. Lam accused MAMACHA and neighboring art gallery The Hole of failing to pay for sculptures they sold in a 2018 exhibition, not returning unsold works and damaging other works, according to Art Net. According to the firm, MAMACHA and The Hole collectively owe Lam approximately $36,000. Andrew Gerber of Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC, which represents Lam, confirmed with Bedford + Bowery that the case is still very much alive.

“We’re under the impression that the café closed in attempts to improperly avoid paying Dan Lam money that is hers,” Gerber told Bedford + Bowery.  

According to Gerber, The Hole argues that it was not involved in Lam’s exhibit or sales and had merely rented space to MAMACHA for the exhibition. Gerber says that this is false. Even if MAMACHA is done serving lattes, Kushnirsky Gerber is not done serving lawsuits.

“We will be going forward pursuing all of the owners and investors in MAMACHA in their personal capacities,” Gerber said. 

The Hole stands by its position. Kathy Grayson, owner and director of the gallery, told Bedford + Bowery that MAMACHA is merely a tenant of the Hole’s. Grayson rented MAMACHA the space next door. “We aren’t partners in any way,” Grayson said in an email.

The Hole was founded long before MAMACHA, in 2010. Since then it has featured over 200 artists including Canadian artist Caroline Larsen and pop culture artist Eric Yahnker. According to Grayson, not only is the Hole being dragged into a fight it has no involvement in, but The Hole also has its own grievances with MAMACHA, and specifically with co-owner Eric Clahan. “He disappeared from communication,” Grayson wrote. “And disappeared while owing us a lot of money.” 

When MAMACHA does move, it will most likely announce its new location on its Instagram, where it places most of its updates. For now, the vacant white brick storefront at 312 Bowery is still a prime vacancy for Instagram photos.