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Marijuana will have to wait in Peabody

PEABODY — Brothers Kouzina, the popular Greek restaurant,  won’t say goodbye to their Route 1 location until year’s end.

Co-owner Penny Christopher said she is looking for a new spot along the busy highway, but hasn’t found a home yet for their marinated lamb shish kabob, chicken souvlaki plate, and mousaka.

“What I can tell you now, is we are still here, same owners, same food, and same location,” she said. “But I don’t have any news yet on where we will be next year. But I’d rather be on Route 1 than anywhere else.”

For more than 40 years, Penny and Jimmy have been serving family-style Greek food in Greater Boston. In 1972, Jimmy Christopher immigrated to the U.S. from Greece, where he worked as a butcher, and opened Brothers Deli in Boston. The couple launched Brothers Kouzina in 2006.

The restaurant property on Newbury Street is owned by the Christophers’ nephew, Alexander Athanas, who purchased the 1.4-acre site in 2015 for $2.5 million. Athanas has agreed to lease the 4,860-square-foot space to Phytotherapy, a medical marijuana dispensary, for $120,000 annually, according to documents made available by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Pritesh Kumar, CEO of Phytotherapy, said the transformation of the restaurant to a marijuana shop will take about three months. He expects to open next spring.

“We are looking to open a true state-of-the-art medical and clinical practice,” he said. “Our hope is for our customers to have an Apple Store-like experience.”

This summer, Phytotherapy and Wellness Connection of Massachusetts got the green light from the City Council to open clinics on Route 1. They will also face competition from Alternative Therapies Group, which has been selling medical marijuana in Salem for three years.

Phytotherapy operates a cultivating and processing center in Fitchburg. They estimate projected revenue next year will be $4.2 million, and $4.6 million in 2020.

Under the terms of an agreement with the city, the financial arrangement provides an initial payment by each medical marijuana dispensary of $100,000 to fund the costs of medical, social, and educational services in the city. In addition, the facilities will be taxed 3 percent of annual gross revenues.

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