About Free Range Kings
Free Range Kings is your ultimate guide to unique and even sublime food and cannabis experiences focused on local restaurants, dispensaries, and people in the cities they represent! We provide in-depth articles, reviews, interviews, and more to highlight local shops and people focused on not only being the best, but doing their part to advance their respective industries – food, cannabis, or BOTH.
Message from the Founder/Lead Writer
I am J. Rize Noveno, and I have a passion for traveling and experiencing a locale as deeply as a visitor can. I am a former long-time corporate employee turned independent consultant that happens to do a fair amount of business travel. Between business and personal treks, I do am probably away from home about a quarter of the year (not counting 2020, of course!).
I have my quirks; for example, I am a serial doodler and need to draw to stay focused on conference calls (I may share some of my mindless art on this site). By the way, I can’t take credit for the painting above, as this beautiful piece is from the living legend Justin Bua made especially for Free Range Kings.
I have recently made my great escape back into entrepreneurship, but understand I need to be on the constant grind to feed my young family. In my travels meeting numerous entrepreneurs, I have gained the utmost respect for those who bet BIG on themselves and are experiencing some level of success through their businesses. They have inspired me to break the “velvet handcuffs” of the corporate world.
I have been traveling for business for almost a decade, but just recently decided to write about it. Unlike a majority of my peers who seem burdened by work trips, I still get the same rush of excitement as I did with my very first work trip. This is regardless of where I am asked to go. In fact, I consider traveling the biggest perk of what I do.
You would be hard-pressed to find another person that does more travel research prior to business trips than I do. I start with the local publications, move onto local blogs, and work my way to the more universally used sites like Eater, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. I have even contacted local bloggers in advance of my trips for off-the-beaten-path spots. After a research binge, I have arrogantly stated to my former co-workers that they could drop me randomly into a particular city, and I would know where I was relative to specific restaurants.
Growing up in more than half a dozen different U.S. cities during my childhood from coast to coast, I have always been fascinated by the cultural nuances from region to region, state to state, city to city, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. I consider each of my trips as a chance to explore uncharted territory and fully immerse myself into the local culture as much as I can, within the limited number of hours I have.
I believe one of the most effective ways to immerse yourself into the local culture is through their food, and that could involve venturing into ‘hoods outside of your comfort zone and asking locals for recommendations on exceptional, one-of-a-kind establishments. Any uneasiness will be worth it, as you are positioning yourself for a unique, authentically-local, and possibly sublime, life-changing experience.
Additionally, a fairly new development in America has sparked my interest: legal cannabis. I have long been an advocate for legalization and decriminalization, and it is exciting to see more and more states “going green.”
Like many Americans, I have technically purchased and consumed cannabis illegally, so I’m thrilled it is being decriminalized (gradually) throughout the country. I also recognize how the “War on Drugs” has resulted in higher arrest and incarceration rates for lower income communities and communities of color that are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use.
Whenever I visit cities in states where the sale of recreational cannabis is legal, I research the cannabis dispensaries as heavily as I do restaurants. Cannabis rules vary from state to state, and I am really interested in how these rules affect how dispensaries operate.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I do not advocate for recreational consumption of cannabis in states/cities where it is not legal. Before doing so, research your organization’s drug policies, the laws of the state you are visiting, the laws of your home state, and federal laws. As a plus of visiting our site, we will impart knowledge as we learn about cannabis laws and rules across the land.
The Incident that “Birthed” the Free Range Kings
On one of my very first work trips, I traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico with my boss at the time. At that stage in my career, I was yes-manning/ma’am-ing my way up the corporate ladder. On that trip, I disagreed with my boss for the first time after he suggested going to dinner at the Applebees near our hotel. With the multitude of possibilities the New Mexican frontier had to offer, I was appalled he would settle for a chain whose soulless eateries are literally in every American city.
To make a long story short, I was able to convince my boss to indulge in carne adovada smothered in red and green chili, sopapillas slathered with honey, and other New Mexican delights at a long time family owned restaurant in Albuquerque.
Through each of my adventures, I incrementally gain an appreciation of each city, as well as a deeper understanding of their roots. If it were not for my carpe diem approach to work trips, I would still be oblivious to the existence of beautiful creations like the St. Paul Sandwich in St. Louis, that the hot tamale is a historically big deal in Mississippi, and that sushi in Texas could be on par with those served on the coasts. Through this approach, I have experienced some truly memorable and even sublime meals.
Rules of “the Game”
Here are our self-enforced “rules” of the Free Range Kings:
- No national chains. Regional chains are okay, as long as they aren’t something you have access to at home. Support local economies and small businesses.
- Aim for “hidden gems” that may not be widely known and praised on a wide scale (yet). Coming from humble beginnings, I’ve always rooted for the underdog.
- Venture into the neighborhoods, not always choosing restaurants in the most popular or “safer” parts of town. Step outside of your comfort zone.
- Seek experiences unique and exclusive to the area. Explore as if you will NEVER be there again.
Calling Fellow Free Range Kings (and Queens) to Action
I hope through my stories and reviews, I can inspire fellow “Free Range Kings” to maximize their experiences during their work trips and trips in general. Let’s persuade our more conservative friends to skip the hotel or chain restaurant offering convenience and comfort. If you are into cannabis or curious about cannabis, I encourage you to enjoy a local dispensary. We have focused on cities where recreational cannabis is legal, but we are always looking for unique and sublime food experiences in ALL U.S. cities. I also hope to hear from you – about your own experiences and your suggestions! You can influence our list of cities we visit and feature in the future.
Hopefully, you’ll stop by this site every now and then to see what is new and even holler at me.
Until next time, let’s continue to seek the sublime and immerse locally!
Have Your Own Stories or Suggestions on Where FRK Should Visit Next?