Editor’s note: This story has updated to correct the corner on which the Evanston Gateway complex is being built.
A new combination marijuana dispensary and bakery is planned for the Evanston Gateway complex at the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Howard Street. The business is projected to open in July, provided it gets the appropriate permits from the City of Evanston.
Scott Weiner, a co-owner of Chicago-based OKAY Cannabis Ltd., said his business plans to open an Evanston location at the 100 Chicago Ave. site., which is just across the street from Chicago. Weiner is also co-founder and president of the local Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, which includes the West Town Bakery brand that is teaming up with OKAY Cannabis.
One OKAY location has already opened in Wheeling; the OKAY website describes it as “A unique cannabis experience: Dispensary, West Town Café & Bar, and chill event Lounge all within a single destination.” A second OKAY site is set to open next month in the West Town area of Chicago.
OKAY Cannabis is classified by the state of Illinois as a social equity dispensary, with a license that has been granted to an individual or individuals whose community has been disproportionately affected by arrests and prosecutions for marijuana-related offenses.
According to its website, OKAY Cannabis “recognize[s] that historically the BIPOC community has been disenfranchised – penalized and incarcerated – by cannabis. Today, OKAY resets this balance by bringing an equitable slice of this budding industry to lift these communities. We are 93% BIPOC owned and work with justice involved youth to build our dispensaries and provide opportunities to develop and grow with them.”
A Chicago Tribune story notes that OKAY’s majority owner is Charles Mayfield, interim chief operating officer for Chicago Public Schools, and former Chicago 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and others are minority owners.
Evanston Gateway, still under construction, is a five-story, 28-unit mixed-use residential building with 4,960 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
Evanston currently has a single marijuana dispensary, Zen Leaf in the Maple Avenue Parking Garage. The city has been eager to attract another dispensary operator, in part because the 3% city tax on recreational cannabis sales funds the city’s reparations program.
Please note that the headline to this article states that the “Evanston Gateway” building is on the northeast corner of Howard and Chicago. This building is actually on the northwest corner.