Hell’s Kitchen will have two legal cannabis stores in 2024 — one run by a family that 30 years ago helped transition Times Square from porn shops to souvenir stores, and the other by a former Broadway theater stagehand who has a son attending school in the neighborhood.
The new legal cannabis dispensaries will take over two of Hell’s Kitchen’s long-closed storefronts — Kodama Sushi on W45th Street and Lincoln Park Bar & Grill on 9th Avenue.
The application for 301 W45th Street (formerly Kodama) to become a dispensary is led by Lintha Khan, who is currently studying for her MBA at Ramapo College. She qualified for the Social Equity Application as a woman and a minority-owned business. “We have been involved in the community for 30-plus years,” said her brother Waleed Khan. “Our family business consists of the I Love New York stores that you guys all see around Midtown Manhattan.”
Waleed Khan explained that his family has operated in New York since 1985. “We go way back. We actually got our first break during the ‘broken window’ times, which made all the pornographic and adult video stores remove their items and bring them to the back of their stores. At that point my father engaged with these owners and opened souvenir stores around Midtown Manhattan. Our family played a major role in cleaning up the streets back then, when there was pornography and a lot of adult toy stores all over Midtown.”
Waleed stressed that the location, just west of 8th Avenue and opposite the Al Hirschfeld Theater (currently running Moulin Rouge) would attract more tourists than locals — which is his family’s expertise. Lintha Khan told the Task Force that she has worked since she was young at their souvenir shops around 8th Avenue and Times Square. “Although I haven’t been talking much, I will be the owner and it will be run by a woman,” said Lintha.
The application was approved, with stipulations including that the store’s delivery drivers do not congregate outside the store, there is a security guard outside at all times and that Lintha will be leading the operations. The owners assured the Task Force they would have a discreet storefront with no neon lights.
The as-yet-unnamed store plans to open in the second half of 2024, with operating hours of 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, and deliveries offered between 10am and 10pm.
Also at the meeting, Donnell Furlow made an application for a dispensary at 867 9th Avenue — home to the Lincoln Park Grill up until 2018. Furlow and his advisors told the Task Force that he had become a “card licensee” earlier this year – and had been given a provisional license for Don Resources Unlimited LLC by the Office of Cannabis Management. He also said that his son is a student in the neighborhood.
According to a report in the Mott Haven Herald earlier this year, Furlow qualified as a “justice involved” applicant. He was raised in Spanish Harlem by a single mother providing for five sons. He started selling marijuana to make ends meet but refused to sell harder drugs.
Furlow was arrested five times: three times for marijuana and twice for disorderly conduct during police stops. After the third drug arrest, he served two months in jail and performed 10 days of community service. He worked for about 12 years as a stagehand and projectionist at the Hudson Theatre before purchasing a route to work as a distributor and sales representative for Utz. After selling the potato chip snacks for five years, he recently sold the route. As an independent contractor, that route qualified him for the business requirements of the dispensary application.
While there were some concerns about the new dispensary location being across the street from Balsley Park and its proximity to the Alvin Ailey School and the High School for Environmental Science, the task force unanimously approved the application — with the stipulation that Donnell conduct further outreach to community organizations to learn more about the area.
The expected hours of operation are 10am-10pm Monday-Saturday and 10am-7pm on Sundays. Donnell plans to have security personnel on-site during hours of operation, with perimeter alarms and 24/7 video surveillance. IDs will be required to enter the building.
Both new dispensaries will be actively looking to recruit locals to work in the store when they open next year.
During the meeting, HK Cannabis Collective (HKCC) — the first legal cannabis showcase in Manhattan — said they would be looking to extend their permit, set to expire at the end of the year.
“We are seeking an extension from the State because it is clear that the problems facing the legal market will still be around this January and well into next year,” said Patrick Conlin, General Manager at HKCC.
Task Force chair Jesse Greenwald requested that HKCC submit an application to the next meeting so that they can further evaluate the showcase.
W42ST is currently undertaking its 2023 survey of empty storefronts and illicit smoke shops. Since 2022, this number has increased by approximately 12%, from 39 illicit smoke shops to 44. The only closures in the past 12 months have been at Hell’s Kitchen Clouds on 52nd Street where there was a fire and at Milky Exotics on 9th Avenue, where the landlord removed the tenant.