Pot store KG Collective seeks to block Sugarloaf, another cannabis company but likely competition


Attorney Walter Sullivan and recreational cannabis entrepreneur Flávia Hungaro at a community outreach meeting September 17 for a previous attempt to find a location for a company called Sugarloaf. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Opposition to a proposed recreational cannabis store for the Strawberry Hill neighborhood on the Watertown line is led by a second recreational cannabis store.

A meeting scheduled for 6pm on Thursday plans to introduce Sugarloaf to neighbors – a third attempt by owner Flavia Hungaro to open in Cambridge after she pulled away from the Port and North Cambridge locations. The first site to 286 Broadway was a community-driven art shop that Hungaro chose to let grow; the second was presented to him by the owner as a storefront on Massachusetts Avenue abandoned by a small grocer. Instead, the grocer insisted he stay.

“The community wanted to keep Food Land there, so we pulled out of the deal and tried to find a way to divide the space,” Sugarloaf attorney Walter Sullivan said Thursday. “In the meantime, other deals were made and Food Land ended up renting the entire space.”

The next location tried by Hungaro is at 19 Belmont St.the former Jackowicz Oriental Medical Therapy Associates, not far from Violette Wine Imports and Sofra Bakery & Cafe.

But a little further east, it’s there The KG Collective is preparing to open its own recreational cannabis shop in 701-703B Mount Auburn Street, West Cambridge, near the Star Market. “KG” stands for “Kush Groove”, a fashion and cannabis brand founded by Michael Pires and Marcus Johnson-Smith in 2011 for “city stoners” and “new-age urban hippies”. One week online petition launched by Johnson-Smith says the store is “weeks away from starting business after more than three years of municipal permits, delays, Covid-19, construction and other circumstances beyond our control.”

Michael Pires, left, and Marcus Johnson-Smith in a screenshot from a Kush Groove video.

The petition calls on signers to support KG Collective and its founders as locals and to oppose Sugarloaf and Hungaro as outsiders. (Hungaro, a naturalized citizen of Brazil, lives in Belmont.) Although Kush Groove raises Sugarloaf’s proposed site of “less than 1,000 feet from a school building” as an issue, city ​​zoning sets 301 feet as the closest distance between a pot store and a school. In 2019, school officials declined to oppose a proposed store that would be around 400 feet from the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper School complex.

The KG Collective’s other objections to Sugarloaf are that “the neighborhood doesn’t need two cannabis businesses” and that competition isn’t wanted: “We need your support to let our reps know that we object to having an additional cannabis establishment 300 meters from a cannabis site. business is already permitted,” the petition reads.

Such arguments had mixed results at Cambridge.

Competition and “need”

The UpperWest wine bar was rejected by the Licensing Commission for a location in Mid-Cambridge in 2014 at the request of Stephen Kapsalis, owner of a nearby restaurant called The Cellar; he told the commissioners that the competition would “directly hurt me”, and the commission complied, pressuring the owners of UpperWest to back down. Commissioner Gerald Reardon, the city’s fire chief at the time, told applicants that there were already ‘a lot of people around you who paid a lot of money for these licenses, and it devalues ​​their license’ . UpperWest was forced to try again in another location.

The commission’s chair at the time, Andrea Spears Jackson, ended up resigning before the end of her contract; Reardon and fellow commissioner Robert C. Haas, the police commissioner, retired.

Zoning officials ruled in 2017 there was a “need” for &pizza to open in Harvard Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

When the &pizza chain sought in 2017 to enter Harvard Square, some residents argued that there was no need for more pizza in the area, despite recent closures of Bertucci’s and Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill – which had both ran within a block. for decades. &pizza’s application for a special permit with the Zoning Appeal Board depended on demonstrating “need”.

“You’re right, there are five pizzerias” already in the square, said Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association. “There are six burger joints. There are 13 cafes and one more to come… There are three ice cream parlours. There are six Mexicans. Interestingly enough, there are eight eye care centers… But there’s another one coming.

The board ended up unanimously approving the arrival of &pizza, which is about 350 feet from Otto Pizza, which opened in 2011. The approval came even after &pizza upset the board with late filings and that its attorney clashed with its members and was accused of “insolence”. .”

During haggling with the board, a dessert vendor named Milk Bar was given part of the &pizza window display instead of just being on the menu, but attorney James Rafferty said the case of “need” was simpler. “I know we’ve talked about this many times before, the need to define ‘need,'” Rafferty said at the time. “If you used to have deep Chicago pizza at Pizzeria Uno, that’s not what it’s going to be. No one makes this pizza in this form. That’s why we believe it meets the need.

  • The Sugarloaf Community Outreach Meeting is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. Thursday at 19 Belmont St., Strawberry Hill.

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