Some customers tend to go to a cannabis dispensary for hybrid products, but never to a hybrid dispensary space that is shared with a bakery and a liquor-licensed cafe.
Well, this is now the reality for Wheeling’s second cannabis dispensary with OKAY Cannabis sharing the same roof as West Town Bakery at 781 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The dispensary/cafe/bakery opened Friday, Feb. 3. Introducing innovative ways of creating new customer experiences, especially in the ever-growing Restaurant Row alongside Milwaukee Avenue.
Scott Weiner is the landlord and partner for the new location and is also Vice Chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association and Co-Founder of The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group (property owner). Weiner told Journal & Topics the idea rooted from originally owning West Town Bakery in West Town in Chicago while having an OKAY dispensary neighboring that location.
“That one is a much smaller store,” Weiner said. “So what we realized is that the best way to sort of make them all work together was to make a bakery and a restaurant as a part of the overall experience. So when this location came around here we were like why don’t we just create the same thing under one roof.”
Walking into the dispensary requires valid identification of being over 21-years-old. After being checked, customers walk into a large colorful open-space room showcasing product, glass, and cannabis amenities. After the dispensary experience, customers can either leave or walk into the other branch of the building where there is lounge seating, a bar and a cafe/bakery with food, coffee and alcohol. Customers have the choice of experiencing either the bakery/cafe or dispensary first.
“I feel like cannabis and baked goods have a place together and we wanted to be more of a gathering place where people could come hang out,” Weiner said.
The experienced restaurateur grew up in Northbrook, and saw the vacant space along Milwaukee Avenue as the perfect opportunity to come back and pay homage to where it all started.
“I used to work on this street at Don Roth’s Blackhawk back in the day,” Weiner said. “It was one of the old big bad steakhouses. So I used to work in this area and dine here. I’m familiar with the area and Restaurant Row and saw an opportunity to purchase real estate and combine this vision.”
For the vision to come alive, Wheeling village trustees had to approve licensing for the property enroute to it becoming a reality.
“This is I think the only combined dispensary and bakery in the country,” Trustee Mary Papantos said at the Feb. 6 meeting. “Once again, Wheeling is moving forward and being a first for someone to look at and come visit.”
“It’s filled with very bright colors and has an amazing bakery,” Village President Pat Horcher said.
Weiner told the Journal that more locations are in the works.
“We’ve got a great concept,” he said. “It’s been really well received within being open for only one week. I like what I see, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.” (Full Story)