Maddison Ballou and Dalton Pike were among the first to arrive at Ishi Ishi, the ramen bar that opened this morning at 93 Washington Avenue on Munjoy Hill. The couple said they have been waiting for this venue to open for about a year – ever since the Suzuki ramen bar at 229 Congress Street closed due to the death of the owner Kei Suzuki. The two used to eat there multiple times a week. (Please see post herein dated June 9, 2015 for more information on the Suzuki ramen restaurant).
Ishi Ishi, owned by Andrew Doolittle and his business partner, Matt DeFio, occupies the space formerly used by The Cheese Shop. The Cheese Shop needed more space for its rapidly expanding business and moved next door. The business is located in the Black Box Rentals on Washington Avenue that was the brainchild of former J. J. Nissan Building owner, Jed T. Harris.
Andrew who has a strong science background with an undergraduate degree in botany and a graduate degree in bio-engineering,is in the Cannabis business. He is growing Cannabis somewhere in Cumberland County for his patients and dispensaries in the area. Obviously, he would not say where it is being grown. “You want to rob me?” he asked joking.
Meanwhile, he is manufacturing cannabis edibles at 646 Forest Avenue as well as for local dispensaries. He applied to the state on January 1st for a permit to sell cannabis for recreational use and expects to hear back in the next several weeks. When the city’s applications are available, he will apply here in Portland as well. “There is lots of competition to get one of the city’s 20 permits,” said Andrew. He knows of a dozen others who will be applying for those permits; one of them is Coast2Coast, whose owners plan to occupy the former laundry on Washington Avenue. The first floor of 646 Forest Avenue will be the retail outlet for his recreational business – Pot and Pan.
“The Black Box is fully occupied. That’s good for all of us – especially with something as hot as ramen is now. “We’ll all benefit,” said Chris Wheaton, owner of North Optical, who occupies the unit next to Ishi Ishi. Ishi means undeterred – as the many customers were who showed up for the Grand Opening despite the icy weather today.