City’s first Black-owned, independent weed shop opens in Logan Square

The Grasshopper Club is a family business run by Mount Carmel graduate Matthew Brewer, his brother, Chuck, and their mother, Dianne.

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Matthew Brewer owns the new Grasshopper Club weed shop at 2551 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square. It’s a family business.

Matthew Brewer owns the new Grasshopper Club weed shop at 2551 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square. It’s a family business.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A new Black-owned marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday in Logan Square — and it’s a family business.

Matthew Brewer, 42, a Hyde Park resident who graduated from Mount Carmel High School, Stanford University and Yale Law School, beamed with pride as he welcomed people into Grasshopper Club, 2551 N. Milwaukee Ave.

His brother, Chuck Brewer, 43, will help run day-to-day operations, and their mother, Dianne Brewer, who has a background in accounting, will help with the books.

Matthew, a commercial litigation attorney who has previous experience in the medical marijuana industry, opened the shop after securing a social equity license, part of the state’s effort to diversify ownership in the industry.

Several other shops have opened under the same license in Chicago, and dozens of others are trying to fulfill state requirements and secure funding to become operational around the state, but Matthew Brewer said his shop is unique because it’s the first minority-owned shop that has not partnered with a larger marijuana investor group or corporation.

“It’s the first independent, minority-owned dispensary in Chicago,” he said. “We use the word independent to represent the fact that we don’t have any connection, affiliation, or support with an MSO, or a multi-state operator. Many of them are publicly traded national corporations in the industry that are supporting different people and groups locally, we don’t have any of that.”

Tuesday was especially meaningful for Chuck Brewer because he’d previously been arrested for possessing marijuana.

“For me to have been arrested for cannabis and for me to be selling cannabis now with my family is one of the best feelings in the world,” he said.

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Chuck Brewer at the opening of Grasshopper Club.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Matthew Brewer also partnered with his friend, Jessica Lee, who previously helped run the Mina Group, a West Coast restaurant group. She tapped an interior designer who specialized in building out posh restaurants to design the interior of Grasshopper.

“I feel like the Chicago market is ready for something a lot more interesting,” she said.

Lee, who grew up in Hyde Park and has a law degree from Harvard University, met Matthew Brewer when they were both interning at a law firm in New York City.

“We were two of the very few summer interns who were people of color and both from Chicago and just bonded immediately and have stayed friends ever since,” she said. Lee later became a chef and got into the restaurant business.

“I had the operational experience on the hospitality side, so we decided to join forces,” she said of her partnership with the Brewers.

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Jessica Lee at Grasshopper Club

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Getting to this point was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Matthew Brewer said. “Frankly, had I not had my previous experience in this space and capital to help build it out, it would almost be impossible.”

He said a few investors offered 49% of the money it took to cover state application fees, but the rest of the money needed for the fees and to get the operation up and running came from him and his family.

His first two customers on Tuesday were his brother, Chuck, who bought pre-rolled joints, and Samir Mayekar, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Deputy Mayor for Economic & Neighborhood Development, who attended the opening and purchased weed gummies.

About 1,000 people applied for 30 job openings at Grasshopper, said Matthew Brewer.

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