Medical marijuana coming to 14th Street

Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita

Columbia Care CEO Nicholas Vita

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, the state Department of Health made the landmark announcement that five companies had been selected to grow and sell marijuana in the state and city for medical use, and each open four dispensaries. Of the 20 to open, five will be in three of the boroughs (two in Manhattan, two in Queens and one in the Bronx), with the busiest one expected to be located in Manhattan on East 14th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

There will be one other Manhattan dispensary, which will be run by a company called Bloomfield, Inc. A rep for Bloomfield said a location for the Manhattan dispensary has not yet been decided.

Peter Kerr, a spokesperson for the company that’s opening the 14th Street center, called Columbia Care, said it will open at 212 East 14th Street in January of next year. The dispensary, he said, will have an atmosphere like “a very nice pharmacy” and be spacious with “a few thousand” square feet.

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Owner of The Frenchmen dies

William Koniuk at The Frenchmen store next to part of its Christmas display (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

William Koniuk at The Frenchmen store next to part of its Christmas display (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

William Koniuk, the founder of the The Frenchmen air conditioner shop on First Avenue, has died at 87.

His son Glenn said Koniuk, who’d battled cancer his whole life, became very ill in the past couple of months and died on Saturday, July 25.

He’d lived in Astoria, Queens, and until three years ago, worked 10-12 hours a day at his Manhattan store, which was well known for its annual Christmas storefront display. This was a tradition that continued for over 20 years.

Koniuk also held Christmas parties every year for the neighborhood at the store, complete with horse-drawn hayrides around the block and live music. He and his employees would dress up as elves.

But unlike most stores that use holiday events to try to get customers inside for sales, Koniuk knew not to bother. In fact, it was only because winter was so slow business-wise that he got the idea (and the time) to focus on putting together his Christmas display, which included dozens of moving Santa models and other holiday-themed characters.

“After Christmas, I’ll think about selling,” he once said.

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