“Cannabis is OK. You’re OK, I’m OK, and it’s OK if you’re also not interested.”
So says John Aldape, a partner in the group behind Okay Cannabis, Ltd., which officially opened a dispensary Monday on the ground floor of the Evanston Gateway apartment building at Chicago Avenue and Howard Street.
This is Evanston’s second marijuana dispensary (the other is ZenLeaf, downtown), but Okay is a bit different than other dispensaries in Chicagoland.
Okay is only half of the property. The other half, with the same front door and same owners, is West Town Bakery. The combined dispensary and bakery is a “joint” venture, so to speak, giving Okay/West Town something unusual in the marijuana market.
But it’s a model also followed at two other Okay/West Town locations, in Chicago and Wheeling.
“This is our niche,” Aldape says. “We identified that there’s room for hospitality to be improved for dispensaries.”
Aldape, who is his company’s director of concept development, says opening a bakery next to a dispensary began with the concept that “people who might want to enjoy cannabis might also want to pick up a coffee and a donut. We thought it would be a natural fit.”