ORLEANS — As one marijuana retailer continues to make its way through local permitting, a second expects to begin the process this summer.
Ember Gardens plans to open a retail facility at 41 Route 6A, hopefully in 2023, according to the company's CEO, Shane Hyde.
The property, located across from the former Lobster Claw restaurant, sits along a stretch of Route 6A that town officials are eying for future economic development, and Hyde believes his company will be a good fit.
"I think we can be a great addition to that area on the highway and do business," he said. "I think it will be a good commercial hub for the town."
A conceptual rendering that was presented to the select board last year shows an L-shaped Cape-style building with shingles and parking in the rear of the property. The existing structure on the site will be torn down to make room for the new facility, which Hyde said will likely be between 1,800 and 3,000 square feet. The front facade of the existing will be recreated as part of the new structure, he said.
The company has since hired a design team with experience in planning marijuana dispensaries to prepare a final building design, but Hyde said the plan that will be presented to local review boards will be similar to what was presented to the select board.
"We like the design," he said. "We think it will be very unique to the Cape. We're planning some special ideas for the interior as well."
Orleans is one of three retail locations the company is currently in the process of opening, with other locations in New Bedford and on Newbury Street in Boston.
Looking to establish presence on the Cape, Ember Gardens turned to Orleans, a town Hyde said he and other employees are familiar with having spent many summers in town. Mutual friends put the company in touch with the property owner on Route 6A, Hyde said.
Beyond having a solid year-round and summer customer base, Hyde said he sees the potential for drawing in customers from neighboring towns such as Eastham.
"There's a lot of towns around Orleans that have actually banned cannabis retail," he said. "So when we looked at our year-round population, we factored in more than just Orleans as our potential customer base."
Plans for the Orleans facility will undergo review from the town's site plan review committee, architectural review committee, board of health and zoning board of appeals.
Ember Gardens started with a focus on cultivation and manufacturing, but is expanding into the retail and home delivery fronts. In addition to its three proposed retail locations, the company is looking to launch home delivery in Middleboro and Boston, and is also looking to develop a cultivation site for its products in Deerfield. Eventually, the company hopes to make its products more widely available beyond its own locations, Hyde said.
A special emphasis will be put on craft products, Hyde said. In Orleans, the company plans to partner with local growers, such as the Cape Cod Grow Lab in Brewster.
There's also a social equity component to the company's work, and two of its founders are participants in the state's social equity program. The program gives persons who were victimized by the War on Drugs prior to marijuana's legalization free training to assist and further their employment in the cannabis industry. The company also has an internship program similarly geared toward helping people affected by the War on Drugs who are interested in working in the business.
"The story is kind of an old one at this point, but there was an industry before this popped up," he said. "Cannabis didn't just come out of the blue. It's been around for decades through prohibition. Having people who were kind of part of that black market, it has some benefits in terms of being able to open a store and grow."
Ember Gardens is one of two businesses that have entered into host community agreements with the select board to open a marijuana retail shop in town. The other, Seaside Joint Ventures, Inc., was approved June 15 for a special permit from the zoning board of appeals toward its plans to open up a dispensary on Lots Hollow Road.
With the cannabis industry still getting off the ground in Massachusetts, Hyde said the competition will benefit both businesses.
"It's only good for the industry and good for the consumer," he said. "There'll be friendly competition for sure, but I think it will be great for everybody in the long run."
Email Ryan Bray at firstname.lastname@example.org