Lombard welcomes its first recreational marijuana dispensary
The "Lilac Village" is now offering another kind of greenery.
After a soft-open that began March 16, Zen Leaf was officially welcomed Friday as Lombard's first recreational-use marijuana dispensary. Village President Keith Giagnorio and Zen Leaf managers were on hand to deliver speeches and cut the ribbon.
"Whether it's a seasoned user or someone brand new to cannabis, we want to make sure that they leave here with something that they will benefit from or enjoy," Lombard Zen Leaf General Manager Ariel Vantellinen said.
The approximately 3,200-square-foot space at 738 Butterfield Road was previously an Anthony's Pizza restaurant. Lombard is Zen Leaf's seventh Illinois location, and the recreational-use marijuana dispensary chain is owned and operated by Chicago-based Verano Holdings.
Zen Leaf is touting its female management team in Lombard, which oversees a staff of 30.
Assistant Manager Annamarie Krecicki left a billing job in the medical insurance industry in November to work for Zen Leaf.
"It's been exciting," Krecicki said. "It's such a diverse group of people, and everybody's here because they believe in cannabis and they want to change perceptions of it."
To assist with social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, both Vantellinen and Krecicki suggest that customers 21 and older should visit Zen Leaf's website at zenleafdispensaries.com. There, they can study the menu or place orders for pickup.
"A lot of people don't know about topicals or what a tincture is," Vantellinen said, referring to cannabis-infused lotions or liquid extracts. "We do offer a wide selection of items on our menu, so utilizing our online ordering streamlines everything and gets everyone in and out pretty quickly."
Lombard was fairly early in its decision to allow recreational marijuana sales. The village board approved zoning regulations plus a 3% sales tax in October 2019 before Illinois recreational sales began Jan. 1, 2020.
But it wasn't until this month that a pot dispensary finally set up shop within Lombard.
"I'm really excited to build these relationships with the community and other businesses," Vantellinen said. "We want to make sure that everyone feels welcome."