New marijuana dispensary is ‘wonderful asset’: Crystal Lake city officials, chamber welcomes Ivy Hall to town

Bud-tender Meredith Nichols talks with people during an open house Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at the Ivy Hall Crystal Lake, a social equity-licensed cannabis dispensary that recently opened at 501 Pingree Road in Crystal Lake.

The inside of the former Culver’s in Crystal Lake has been transformed with bright colors, a flower wall, tote bags saying “buy weed from women,” psychedelic glass smokers, edibles and a retro gas station pump.

The new business, Ivy Hall Crystal Lake, is pitched as a “sensory dispensary” on its website with staff describing its atmostpher as like a “ski lodge” or “speakeasy.”

“Our customers are not just cattle coming into a factory to pick up cannabis,” general manager Zachary Edgerton said.

During an official ribbon cutting Thursday morning – the location has been in a soft opening since Jan. 21 – city officials touted the opening of Ivy Hall as a great business addition to Crystal Lake, while other attendees expressed excitement about the marijuana products themselves.

“This is a wonderful asset for the community,” Mayor Haig Haleblian said. “It’s been wonderful to work with them. I’ve wanted this in our community for a long time. The culture is here. It’s a product enjoyed by many, and it’s better [for our economy] that they enjoy it here in Crystal Lake.”

At the time a dispensary was first approved by the Crystal Lake City Council in 2021, representatives under the business name AmeriCanna Dream estimated it would generate $500,000 in sales tax revenue annually. An updated figure was not available Thursday.

A number of ambassadors and members of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce were also in attendance at the event.

“This is a positive for the community,” said chamber member Ronald Tessler, president of Tessler Construction Inc. “There’s a need for both the medicinal and recreational aspect of this. Plus it looks amazing.”

Reception in Crystal Lake has been very positive during Ivy Hall’s opening few weeks, Edgerton said.

“There’s a small town vibe here,” Edgerton said. “People talk: ‘Oh, did you see that dispensary that opened near the bank?’ People know we’re here. I don’t know how, but they do.”

Inventory manager Quinn Winters said the staff was relieved to have gotten through red tape and open the store.

“It’s no different, or even better, than using alcohol,” Edgerton said. “The stigma has gotten less negative over cannabis, but it needs to come down way more.”

The dispensary, located at 501 Pingree Road, qualified for its state license to operate through the state’s social equity initiative. Ivy Hall qualified because the ownership group is majority African-American, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said in a release last year.

The social equity license is one reason why Demi Witter, a brand ambassador for fashion accessory company Edie Parker, said they were excited to work with Ivy Hall.

“It’s great to see more licensees, more businesses from people of color, open up, especially in the suburbs now,” Witter said. “I’m excited for this community. It [Ivy Hall] is going to be a game changer out here.”

Ivy Hall is the second dispensary to open in McHenry County after Rise Lake in the Hills opened in 2021.

Currently, there is one other Ivy Hall location in the Chicago neighborhood of Bucktown; Crystal Lake staff said both locations had very similar designs.

The company is hoping to announce several more locations in the Chicago region this year, general manager Dominique Moses said, declining to identify any specific sites since local agreements have not been finalized.

Information about Ivy Hall can be found at