Business

Dispensary Converts Former Burger King, wants to Bring Drive-Thru Marijuana to Colfax

Ajoya wants to bring drive-thru marijuana sales to Lakewood, but it's content with launching a brand-new store in the meantime.

The longtime medical marijuana dispensary closed up shop at 11950 West Colfax Avenue this spring, then reopened a few weeks later less than a mile up the road. Ajoya's new location debuted at 10590 West Colfax Avenue on May 13, and now offers both medical and recreational sales.

For the expanded customer pool, CEO Joey Gindi thought that a bigger store was necessary. "We've wanted to have recreational sales since we opened a store in Lakewood," he says. "Once we got it, there just wasn't enough space, room or parking at the last store."

Ajoya first opened in Lakewood in 2010, but the city didn't allow recreational pot sales until last year, after voters approved a citywide initiative. The new Lakewood dispensary will continue operating as a medical marijuana dispensary as well, Gindi notes, with two separate rooms for one-on-one budtender consultations.

The 3,500-square-foot store also has an express counter and a to-go window for pre-orders, which will give Ajoya the unique distinction of having the first drive-thru dispensary in the metro area — once it's approved by the City of Lakewood.

Walk-up and drive-thru windows at dispensaries were originally outlawed in Colorado, but became legal through executive orders enacted in 2020 by Governor Jared Polis at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those executive orders ended last year, but permanent to-go and drive-thru marijuana sales were eventually approved by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. To operate a drive-thru dispensary window, however, a dispensary must receive approval from its local government and follow a set of security and surveillance rules.

According to Lakewood public information officer Stacie Oulton, the city doesn't require a special permit for drive-thru dispensary sales, but stores still need to apply for a license to modify the premises. Ajoya's application is still being ironed out, but Gindi says the property, a former Burger King, is ready for the addition.

Ajoya also operates a dual-use dispensary in Louisville, but no longer grows its own cannabis. Instead, the store works with wholesale growers, which have seen a dramatic downshift in the market over the last year.
Despite declining marijauna sales and prices across Colorado, however, Gindi says he's confident in Ajoya's future, and still plans to expand.

Marijuana sales are on a ten-month skid, with the MED reporting a 22 percent drop on an annual basis in March. Opening up for recreational sales in a city with over 150,000 people right next to Denver does have an upside, though. According to MED's most recent monthly sales reports, recreational marijuana sales ($139.6 million) outnumbered medical sales ($22.9 million) more than six to one in March.

"It is something I've noticed and think about," Gindi says of Colorado's current marijuana market space. "But I really believe in cannabis."