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Brothers Kouzina closing Route 1 location to make way for pot shop

PEABODY — After a one-year delay, Brothers Kouzina will serve its last dish of marinated lamb shish kabob at its Route 1 location in June.

“We have been lucky to have been able to hold onto our lease for another year,” said co-owner Penny Christopher. “These 12 months has allowed us to look for another location and to secure jobs for our employees.”

The move clears the way for her nephew, Alexander Athanas, to open one of the city’s two medical marijuana shops at the restaurant site. Athanas bought the 1.4-acre parcel in 2015 for $2.5 million, according to the South Essex County Registry of Deeds. He agreed to lease the 4,860-square-foot restaurant to Phytotherapy Inc., a medical marijuana dispensary, for $120,000 annually where he will serve as the company’s president, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He said construction is expected to start in July.

Athanas has signed a purchase and sale agreement for a growing facility in Fitchburg for $795,000.

Wellness Connection of Massachusetts also got the green light from the City Council to open a medical marijuana clinic near Bertucci’s.

Phytotherapy received a provisional certificate of registration one year ago from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. But they will need to pass a state inspection before it can be approved for its final license.

In addition to issuing special permits to launch the two clinics, the City Council approved an agreement that could bring the city as much as $440,000 in tax revenue during their first year of operation.

The financial arrangement provides an initial payment by each medical marijuana dispensary of $100,000 to fund the medical, social and educational costs to the city. In filings with the state, the clinics wrote they expect to have revenues of $4 million. The facilities will be taxed 3 percent of annual gross revenues.

Christopher said she is looking at potential new locations in Peabody and hopes to secure a deal by Labor Day.

For more than 40 years, Christopher and her husband, James, have served Greek food at a number of Greater Boston locations. James Christopher moved to the U.S. from Greece in 1972, worked as a butcher and opened Brothers Deli in Boston’s Mattapan Square. In 2006, the couple opened Brothers Kouzina on busy Route 1.

“Our plan is to close at the end of June, and I will take the summer off and hopefully have an announcement in September for a new location,” Penny Christopher said.

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