Work finally underway on Lake Zurich’s first adult-use cannabis dispensary

Former TGI Friday’s being transformed into Nirvana; second dispensary under review

More than two years after village approval, Lake Zurich's first adult-use cannabis dispensary is under construction.

Meanwhile, plans for what could be the village's second dispensary will proceed to a more thorough review and public hearing.

The village in its electronic newsletter this week reported building permits have been issued and work for the Nirvana Dispensary at 676 S. Rand Road (Route 12) is well underway.

Approved in November 2021 and formerly known as Bloc, Nirvana is located in the former TGI Friday’s restaurant, which closed in March 2020. The project stalled due to construction delays and regulatory hurdles with licensing requirements, according to the village.

Nirvana Dispensary is expected to open for business July 1.

The building is located in a regional shopping business district intended for major retail centers and specialty shops that appeal to customers in town and communities outside Lake Zurich. Adjoining businesses include Home Depot and Costco Wholesale.

About a mile or so to the northeast at Route 22 and Oakwood Road, Tofino Shoreline Partners LLC wants to locate an adult-use cannabis store called Mood Shine in a vacant storefront in the Oakwood Commons strip center.

  What would be Lake Zurich’s second adult-use cannabis dispensary is proposed for this vacant storefront in Oakwood Commons strip mall on Route 22 at Oakwood Road. The proposal is advancing for a review of potential issues and public input by the village’s planning and zoning commission. Paul Valade/

The space has been vacant since 2022 and is in the local and community business district, intended to serve everyday shopping needs and provide specialty shops to attract a wider target market, according to the village.

Operating a dispensary in Lake Zurich requires a special-use permit after a public hearing before the village’s advisory planning and zoning commission with final approval by the village board.

Village board members during a courtesy review Monday had general questions on security, parking, traffic, competition and other aspects of the operation, but Tofino was given the go ahead to proceed. The planning and zoning commission will review more thoroughly potential issues and make a recommendation to the village board after considering public feedback.

Tofino was awarded a state license for an adult-use cannabis dispensary but because of long delays wants to transfer its interest and concentrate on operations in other states. With that, an entity called Briteside LLC would own and operate the license on a day-to-day basis.

“We believe we can be a benefit to the Lake Zurich community in a bunch of ways,” said Ashley Thullen, CEO of the High Life Group, which also will be opening a dispensary in Chicago Heights in a few months and has one in Carbondale under construction.

She would oversee daily operations in Lake Zurich.

“I had not heard of Lake Zurich until I started seeking a location, but when I did, I immediately fell in love with the community,” she said.

Mayor Tom Poynton said village officials carefully considered whether to allow cannabis sales in town once it became legal.

“We took a long time to even OK cannabis in this community,” he said. “We understand that it did have some benefit and was well-regulated.”

A dispensary in this location is consistent with village goals to identify new revenue sources and expand as a regional economic hub, according to a staff review.

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