ROGERS PARK — A Rogers Park cannabis dispensary is looking to move to a larger, more prominent building that once was home to a popular Italian restaurant.
Green Gate Dispensary’s parent company, Verano, wants to take over the Leona’s restaurant building at 6935 N. Sheridan Road. The move would give Green Gate a larger footprint in the area while filling the building that has been vacant since the restaurant closed in 2019.
Ald. Maria Hadden’s (49th) office will host a community meeting on the move and its required zoning change March 28. To register for the meeting, click here.
Moving to Sheridan Road would take Green Gate, 7305 N. Rogers Ave., out of a more residential area of Rogers Park and onto a prominent commercial stretch, a spokesperson for Verano said. It would also greatly increase the dispensary’s parking from its current six spaces.
“Although Green Gate Chicago’s current location has been successful, the proposed Sheridan Road storefront on a busy commercial street would provide a larger footprint, additional parking spaces and other amenities that may elevate our patient and customer experience, while alleviating any traffic and noise concerns associated with its current location in a more residential area,” Verano Communications Director Steve Mazeika said in a statement.
“The Sheridan Road location would also activate a currently dormant retail space on this iconic Rogers Park street, in close proximity to public transit, the lakefront and Loyola University, providing greater accessibility and convenience for patients and customers.”
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Green Gate opened in Rogers Park in 2018. The then-independent dispensary remained medical-only even when Illinois’ adult-use cannabis law went into effect in 2020.
Chicago-based Verano bought the business and opened it to recreational customers in April. The company also announced plans to rename the dispensary Zen Leaf, Verano’s in-house dispensary brand.
Green Gate has outgrown its location on Rogers Avenue and is looking for a more centrally located home in the neighborhood, Hadden said in her email newsletter.
If approved for the move, Verano would renovate the nearly 9,000-square-foot restaurant building, Hadden said. The family that bought Leona’s in 2013 owns the building and listed it for sale, but it is unclear if Verano wants to buy or lease.
Leona’s was on Sheridan Road from 1987 to 2019, when it abruptly closed.
Verano’s would need to secure a zoning change to convert the former restaurant into a dispensary. The company also would require approval through the city’s Lakefront Protection process due to its proximity to Lake Michigan, Hadden said.
A special use permit will also need to be secured for the new location through the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Verano operates cannabis dispensaries in 12 states and has at least 10 locations in Illinois, including Zen Leaf outposts in Greektown and Evanston. The company was founded by George Archos, who owns the Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe chain of diners.
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