There will not be a pot shop ready for business in time for the 15th Ave E Merchants Association’s 2015 Sidewalk Fest. The ongoing saga of who will open Capitol Hill’s first recreational pot shop has hit a bureaucratic lull. Two competing potreprenuers on 15th Ave E are waiting to obtain licenses from the state as two other businesses in the mix — a third generation cobbler and a punk rock arcade/ice cream shop — await permits from the City.
Ian Eisenberg tells CHS he plans to apply for a new I-502 license next year to open a second Uncle Ike’s pot shop in his building at 15th Ave E and E Republican.
“The more time I spend on 15th, the more I love it,” Eisenberg said. “I really want to open second shop there.”
For now, Eisenberg is operating the Capitol Hill Family Arcade — a business that he says was a quick and fun way to activate the space while he waits to open a pot shop.
But for Sam Burke, an I-502 permit holder who’s attempting to open tok pot shop across the street, the arcade was simply a maneuver to keep his doors shut. Under state zoning regulations, I-502 shops cannot be located within a 1,000-foot buffer of places where children gather, like schools, parks, and arcades (those rules could soon change with new zoning authority available to local municipalities).
Burke did not return calls from CHS for this story and his representative declined to comment.
The Burke-Eisenberg feud began earlier this year when Eisenberg snatched away the 15th Ave building from Burke. The building was previously home to the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic. 15th and Republican is likely the only area on Capitol Hill where a pot shop could open under current zoning rules. So Burke looked across the street to Angel’s Shoe Repair.
After Burke took over the space in June, Eisenberg carved out room for Ray Angel in his building. Angel’s century-old cobbler equipment is all moved in, but his daughter Arlana Angel tells CHS he’s playing the permit waiting game in order to open.
“Everything over there looks great,” she said. “It’s a great location, better foot traffic, better than Republican.”
The last piece of Eisenberg’s puzzle will be handing over his arcade space to Full Tilt. Again, Eisenberg says its just a matter of City permits coming through to open. According to Full Tilt, the new space will have a larger arcade section than any of the other Full Tilt shops, featuring about 20 arcade and pinball machines. The plan is to serve up ice cream in bars, but in not scoops.
While business has been booming at Uncle Ike’s (an eye popping $1.3 million in sales in July, its most productive month yet), the shop has faced it’s fair share of backlash. Last year members of the Mount Calvary Christian Church sued Eisenberg, claiming he should have never been allowed to open near the church.
The lawsuit was dropped earlier this year, but protests outside of the shop persist. An August 9th Black Lives Matter march made its way in front of Uncle Ike’s, where one speaker praised previous protestors, saying “They told him, you don’t come into a black neighborhood and start throwing your weight around. Especially when you’re coming from Israel. And you’re former IDF [Israeli Defense Forces].”
Video provided by Eisenberg
Eisenberg is Jewish, and says he was born in Seattle and was never a member of the Israeli military. After hearing a recording of the speech, Eisenberg said he contacted the Anti-Defamation League and reported the incident to police.
Meanwhile, Eisenberg is planning some upgrades at both of his buildings. Plans are in the works to add a second story office space above the arcade/ice cream shop/cobbler/future pot shop building. Uncle Ike’s Glass and Goods, adjacent to the pot shop at 23rd and E Union, is currently closed for remodeling. “The place had all the ambiance of a nice insurance office,” Eisenberg said. Uncle Ike’s, by the way, is a CHS advertiser.
Finally, a new neon sign on E Union will, according to permits, give lost customers some helpful advice: “HEY STONER! AROUND THE CORNER.”