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Changes on 4th Street: Goodbye Pei Wei, hello medical marijuana

Bill DeYoung

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A view of the Surterra medical marijuana dispensary on Ulmerton Road in Largo (photo: Surterra Wellness)

Every time a door closes, it seems, another one opens.

St. Petersburg’s busy 4th Street corridor, between north 5th and 22nd Avenues, continues to bear witness to change at a rapid clip. Pei Wei, the fast-food Asian restaurant that opened, with great fanfare, just two years ago, served its last orders of Kung Pao and General Tso Monday.

The Mexican restaurant Grand Hacienda, with a keystone store on St. Pete Beach, leased a section of the renovated North Ward Secondary School for its second location this spring; the casual Mediterranean chain Zoe’s Kitchen opened a 4th Street location in June.

Now Shep’s, the former convenience store turned deli turned craft beer emporium, has left its 40-year home to make way for a medical marijuana dispensary.

After leasing the property at 2001 4th St. N., Atlanta-based Surterra Wellness had it pared back to the walls, and will open its first St. Petersburg location in the “near future” (a spokesman for Surterra did not immediately return phone calls). Renovations are ongoing.

According to a hand-painted sign on the front of the 3,000-square-foot building, Shep’s will re-open at the intersection of 23rd Ave. N. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

In 2016, Surterra Therapeutics became the first fully licensed cannabis farm growing the plant in Florida. Surterra already has dispensaries in Largo, Tampa and eight other Florida cities.

Jake Bergman, founder and CEO of Surterra, began the company in 2013. “We felt that in the states where it was legal, everyone had overlooked the true medical benefits of cannabis production,” he told AgFunderNews.

“When you go to Colorado, it’s very much ‘wink wink, nod nod’ among those buying and selling cannabis products. We saw demand for conditions like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and cancer that no-one was addressing in a therapeutic fashion.”

Shep’s is owned by Josh Connell, who also owns the downtown St. Pete taverns Five Bucks Drinkery and Tamiami.

Renovators are hard at work transforming Shep’s into Surterra Wellness (photo by Bill DeYoung).

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