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Monday, February 6, 2023

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Rolling on the Flore

The former Cafe Flore has plans to open its own pharmacy in the Castro in a ‘sort of’ historic block.

Formerly an oversized statue of Santa Claus smoking an unreasonably large joint rose every year during the Christmas seasonThe beloved Castro restaurant Cafe Flore. In the future,
real-life huge joints may be available from Flore.

Flore’s new owners are applying for a cannabis dispensary license to sell both recreational and medical marijuana. Billed as a “unique Castro style adult cannabis showroom”, the dispensary would not be found in the old Cafe Flore space, but instead across the street at the 258 Noe Street spot that is currently the Gloss’ N’Glam nail salon.

We should note that “Cafe Flore” has been renamed simply “Flore” under the new owners who bought the 45 year old terrace cafe in late 2016. The proposed dispensary would be known as the Flore Store and it will be a nod to Cafe Flore’s historic importance in the marijuana legalization movement.

“It cannot be emphasized enough what a role Cafe Flore has played,” said Flore co-owner Terrance Alan. “It was Cafe Flore where Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary met and came up with the idea of ​​Prop. 215.”

Alan has been deep in the weeds of marijuana legalization in San Francisco for years. He was the founding chairman of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and, until earlier this year, chaired the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, which advised City Hall on cannabis legalization. That committee was established in 2015 — before California even had legal cannabis for adults.

But that doesn’t give Alan the license to pull the sticky strings he wants, and Flore has to abide by the same rules as any other cannabis business. An attempt to turn Flore into a “cannabis cafe” with infused food and drink was scuttled in 2017, as the place is licensed and therefore unable to provide cannabis. Their menu of CBD-infused cocktails also went up in smoke when regulations went into effect on January 1, 2018, banning such items.

Right now, the Flore Store’s most pressing problem is that it is not licensed to sell marijuana. In fact, nobody has the kind of cannabis license Flore is looking for.

You may have noticed that not a single new pharmacy has opened in San Francisco since recreational sales started on January 6. That’s not an accident.

All existing SF pharmacies were grandfathers in to qualify under the old medical cannabis dispensary rulees, and they are currently working with six-month temporary permits. No one has applied for or received a new permit yet.

“We will be seeking permission for a license that was never requested,” Alan says, noting that the Office of Cannabis is still issuing referrals vetting numerous applicants. “I hope we are among the first to be guided through the process. We don’t even know if we’ve gone through step one yet.”

That first step is to obtain conditional use permission from the Planning Commission. The process is taking a long time and the team has plans to give the location a major facelift in the meantime.

“After the conditional use has been approved, building permits will be issued that will allow us to restore the building to its former glory,” says Alan. “We will remove and restore all vinyl siding to match the Victorian style we see up and down Noe Street.”

Patrons enjoy sushine on Flore’s terrace on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/SF Examiner)

Plans also include a “living wall” of plants and flflowers overlooking the adjacent Noe-Beaver Mini Park Community Garden, and a wall project for which Flore is currently soliciting ideas and designs.

But despite the old cafe branding and adjacent Flore restaurant, neither of the Flore locations onsite allow you to smoke marijuana or consume edibles.

“The Flore Store is very small,” Alan says. “It will be about 900 square feet, so it will be designed as a small, neighborhood-oriented cannabis store, with redesigned edibles under the Flore flag.

“I say ‘reimagined edibles’ because today when you think of edibles, under the current law you think of packaged brownies, gummy bears, cookies, packaged things,” he explains. “Where I believe Flore will be able to develop edibles is in custom things like salad dressings, coffee and beverage additives, and sauces that you can take home.”

Alan is hopeful that the red tape can be eliminated within the next 12 months, and the Flore Store can helpa retail revival in a Castro where storefronts are struggling and the neighborhood is becoming less of a gayborhood.

“Now we have people with kids and prams,” Alan says, remembering the roots of Flore’s gay subculture. “The neighborhood has changed, but Cafe Flore welcomes everyone.”

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