WINSLOW — The site of Winslow’s Lobster Trap & Steakhouse will be getting a makeover, as local resident Chris Duffy and his business partners turn the place into a waterfront medical marijuana shop and cannabidiol restaurant.

Duffy, of Oakland, received unanimous Planning Board approval for the project Monday night. He is in the process of closing on the 5,200-square-foot property, which he is buying for almost $500,000, and plans to open under the name Brickhouse Cannabis Co. in January — or possibly by Christmas, if all goes according to plan.

“We are very excited to start demo and get going,” Duffy said Wednesday, adding that he knows he has big shoes to fill at 21 Bay St. “(Jeannine Hendsbee, the former owner) is a staple of the community, and we recognize that this building is a staple of the community, so it’s not something we take lightly.”

This is not Duffy’s first foray into the medical marijuana business. He and four others currently run a caregiver shop in Westbrook, also called Brickhouse, that sells products ranging from dry herb to brownies and other edibles. Duffy and his father formed the medical marijuana greenhouse that supplies Brickhouse — Shamrock Farms — in 2014.

The Winslow site will house the company’s first restaurant, though Duffy said he and his business partners hope to eventually have a total of seven locations throughout the state. Zoning laws prevented Brickhouse from opening at a location they were first considering on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville.

Winslow officials “have been so receptive, helpful and excited to get business in town,” Duffy said.

The restaurant will mimic the food industry’s farm-to-table trend, Duffy said, by incorporating marijuana he and his partners grow into the CBD, or cannabidiol-containing dishes.

All coffee and food can be purchased either containing CBD or not containing CBD to make the atmosphere as family-friendly as possible, Duffy said, and the CBD is lab-tested and approved.

Chris Duffy and others have bought the former Lobster Trap restaurant at 21 Bay St. in Winslow. The business is being renamed the Brickhouse Cannabis Co. and will offer a waterfront CBD cafe on the deck that overlooks the Kennebec River.

CBD is an extract that has been linked to several health benefits, although none confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The purported benefits range from helping to treat childhood epilepsy syndromes to alleviating anxiety, chronic pain and inflammation, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

It can be derived from either hemp or marijuana plants, but does not have any psychoactive effects and will not get users “high.”

“We’re at the infancy stages of (planning the menu),” Duffy said. “We have some solid ideas and we’re doing some research, asking what people want. People seem to be excited about doughnuts, ice creams and eclairs.”

On the savory side, Duffy said sandwiches will appear on the menu. CBD will be incorporated in batches of the ingredients — for instance, in a sauce like pesto.

While adding CBD to coffee has started to catch on throughout the state, there are few, if any, restaurants serving house-made meals with the substance, according to industry insiders.

“(Adding CBD to drinks) is definitely a popular thing down here,” said Tessa Storey, the general manager of Higher Grounds cafe in Portland, which was one of the first coffee shops in Maine to offer CBD in drinks, beginning in June 2018.

The store does not cook up hot food with CBD in it, but it does sell locally made, CBD-infused products, including jams and chocolates from All Kind, cheesecake from The Spins and lollipops from Jordy’s Suckers.

“I haven’t yet seen anybody do made-to-order food with (CBD),” Storey said. “Mostly it’s prepackaged.”

The Warehouse in Oakland started serving coffee infused with house-made cannabidiol in September. It also offers prepackaged, CBD-containing products, but no full meals.

Though chefs and servers have not been hired yet, Duffy said he will be working with Mighty Viking Gummy, which makes edibles for Brickhouse in Westbrook, to bring on employees in Winslow. The business will add 15 new jobs in the area, according to Duffy, who said he would like to see that number grow.

Brickhouse’s business partners include Duffy’s father, Christopher; Brendan McGann; Christopher Hovey; and Harry and Mary Dermer.

Duffy is unsure how many tables and people will be able to fit in the restaurant once the current building is gutted and rebuilt. He said the restaurant will have “very modern” decor and granite countertops. The exterior will look the same as it currently does, with light gray siding.

During the warmer months, patrons will be able to dine outdoors on the large deck overlooking the Kennebec River and Lockwood Mills complex, which is being redeveloped into commercial space and apartments. Smoking marijuana will not be allowed at the facility, in keeping with Maine law.

Duffy, who served four years in the Marine Corps after graduating from Messalonskee High School, said he hopes Brickhouse will become a particularly welcoming place for veterans.

“We want to pick up the fight against PTSD and do a lot of events like that,” Duffy said. “That’s something that hits close to home for me personally.

“(Being a veteran) made me really want to start getting involved in the (medical marijuana) business in some way. It’s just been very beneficial, and any way we can help someone in need, we want to be able to provide that service to them.”

He added he wants the business to become a community hub. Brickhouse also plans to do a variety of charitable work.

“This community has given me a lot, and we’d like to pay that back,” Duffy said. “Whether that’s sponsoring sports teams, boosters, different school clubs, homeless shelter events, we want to give back to the area.

“There’s a lot of history and tradition here and it’s a proud area. If we can help in the revitalization, that’s what we’d love to do.”


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