You now have four legal cannabis shops to choose from on Capitol Hill.
The E Olive Way expansion of the Uncle Ike’s pot chain is open and celebrating its debut with $1 joints just weeks after the shop was targeted and damaged by protesters.
Ian Eisenberg opened the original Uncle Ike’s, the city’s second ever legal pot shop, at 23rd and Union in 2014, and added the first Capitol Hill Uncle Ike’s on 15th Ave E in late 2016. Ruckus beat everybody to the punch on the Hill when it debuted just off 15th Ave E as the neighborhood’s first ever legal cannabis shop in late 2015.
The new Uncle Ike’s will create a second Capitol Hill pot cluster after The Reef opened just up E Olive Way in the former Amante Pizza location in August 2018. The Reef’s new home made the old pizza shop nearly unrecognizable after a redesign of the interior by architects Olson Kundig. Its presence has since spread across the street where the pot shop has stepped up to sponsor a clean-up and upgrades to the Arcade Plaza pavement park.
Pot entrepreneur Eisenberg paid more than $2 million for the two-story, 1967-era property in the fall of 2017 as a land rush for E Olive Way properties played out after shifting laws and policies opened up the street to I-502 pot development. Last summer, CHS reported on the start of delayed construction to create Uncle Ike’s “Capitol Hill West” shop in the overhauled office building next to The Crescent. The project was further delayed this spring during the COVID-19 restrictions on construction.
“Located on E Olive Way and Bellevue Ave in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, our Olive Way location is surrounded by numerous nightlife hot-spots and is a great place to grab all of your cannabis needs,” the Ike’s site reads. “Conveniently located close to downtown and just off the Olive Way exit from I-5. Check out our themed ‘Songs of Stonewall’ Jukebox, our tribute to the LGBTQ history of Capitol Hill!”
As it prepared to open, demonstrators broke glass and set a small fire inside the E Olive Way shop late last month on a night of protest mayhem in the neighborhood that also targeted a boutique owned by the wife of a Seattle Police officer and damaged other nearby businesses.
The presence of Eisenberg’s headquarters in the Central District on a street corner that was once a notorious area in the city’s illegal drug trade has been contentious with protests, rallies, and lawsuits targeting the chain over the years.
The King County Equity Now coalition has included the city’s pot industry in its efforts to address racial disparity in Seattle. Its Cannabis Equity Now campaign is centered on creating more ownership opportunities in the city where it says none of the dozens of existing pot shops are Black-owned:
King County Equity Now (KCEN)—an ecosystem of Black-led, accountable community-based organizations, Black elders, organizers, healers, and families fighting for equity now—and its supporters are calling on (i) all recreational cannabis shops in Martin Luther King Jr. County to commit to the Cannabis Equity Now calls to action (below) and (ii) all weed connoisseurs interested in seeing Black equity in WA to support this campaign.
“You have the opportunity and responsibility to be on the right side of history, and lead the work towards creating a more inclusive legal cannabis industry,” the campaign’s pledge reads.
Earlier this year, Eisenberg began a process of reorganizing his holdings and consolidating the companies that make up the chain.
Though hugely taxed and highly regulated, the state’s legal pot industry appears to be COVID-proof. Washington shops generated an all time high $46 million in sales in May, the last complete month of data available from 502data.com. According to the reports, the original Uncle Ike’s at 23rd and Union remains the highest grossing location in the chain with nearly $700,000 in sales reported in May — down nearly half from its all-time highs after first opening but still the fourth highest sales totals in the city. Fifth? That would be Ike’s new E Olive Way competitor The Reef with just under $650,000.
Uncle Ike’s Olive Way is located at 1411 E Olive Way.
The Reef is a CHS advertiser.
UPDATE 8/6/2020 4:19 PM: Activists calling for equity in Seattle and Washington’s cannabis industry say they are planning a protest targeting Uncle Ike’s night with a march Friday night from the chain’s 15th Ave E location to its 23rd and Union headquarters. The groups including Engage Seattle and the Black Excellence in Cannabis effort are calling on Eisenberg to participate in a “direct, recorded” meeting “to discuss his role in gentrification and the impact on the black community in Seattle” and to donate 30% of Ike’s profits to an anti-gentrification land fund and the Northwest Bail Fund.
“I don’t do demands but if asked I am happy to meet with anyone,” Eisenberg told CHS about the effort.
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