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New adult-use cannabis dispensary set to open on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood

Aug. 18, 2023 By Anthony Medina

A second Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) application within the Community Board 5 district plans to set up shop on 57-01 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood sometime in November, according to the owners of the cannabis dispensary.

At the Community Board 5 Liquor License and Cannabis Committee meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17, members moved not to oppose the application for a legal adult-use dispensary in Ridgewood, but not without some concern. 

The expected adult-use cannabis dispensary called “Late Bloomers” will be run and operated by the husband and wife duo Suzanne Furboter and Fernando Pena, who also owned multiple restaurants in Astoria. At 54 years old, the couple told the committee they plan to conduct the businesses with the community in mind. 

“We’ve had a couple of restaurants with liquor licenses with no incidents at all in Astoria working side-by-side together every day. As far as I’m concerned, this seems like a great opportunity for making money and this and that, but it’s nice to have a business again and be with my wife,” said Pena. “I think that we are the perfect ambassadors for this new thing that’s happening to the city with this cannabis. Okay, we’re 54 years old, we’re mature, we’re not party people. This thing is for adults.

The husband and wife owned Fatty’s Cafe in Astoria and a neighboring bodega that was turned into a wine bar until financial pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shut their doors, Pena explained. 

Committee members asked the couple to clarify their plans on store signage, security and preventative measures to avoid patrons lingering outside the dispensary after hours. Jorge Luis Vasquez, with the law firm Vasquez Segarra LLP, and lead attorney representing the Office of Cannabis Management, helped answer the committee’s questions and clarified the recent legal issues facing OCM. 

Since the dispensary is being funded by the state, in difference from other businesses that have the option to fund the businesses entirely out of pocket, the specifications behind storefront signage, security and layout are predetermined, according to the couple. 

In working with the security group Saphire Risk Management, the dispensary owners expect to have security guards inside and outside of the facility, but couldn’t share if they will be armed. The owners also assured the committee that they’ll follow the state guidelines for a simplistic signage design, along with a secure interior for the facility — working in conjunction with the sheriff’s department and NYPD in the event of any incidents. 

The official opening date for Late Bloomers was pushed back to November, pending recent litigation, which issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the state from issuing or processing cannabis dispensary licenses, the attorney at the meeting explained. The restraining order comes from a lawsuit accusing OCM prioritizes applicants with drug convictions over military veterans.  

Committee members considered asking the couple to give a presentation on their dispensary at the upcoming board meeting in September, but the group agreed to hold off since the outcome of the lawsuit with OCM won’t be determined until afterward.

Ultimately, the committee decided not to oppose the dispensary since they were in compliance with the state guidelines and reiterated what was said in the prior board meetings — accepting legal cannabis businesses is preferable to letting illegal smoke shops continue to get more business. 

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