Riviera Creek Launches Expansion, New Business Line

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city’s first medical marijuana grow site plans to double its capacity by next year, its principals say, as it introduces a new business line for an expanding market.

Riviera Creek LLC is in the process of adding another 5,000 square feet of grow space to its site on Crescent Street in order to meet demand for its medicinal marijuana brands, says CEO Daniel Kessler.

“As we’ve watched the market grow, we’re growing along with it,” he says. The expansion would include additional space to grow new strains of plants, mothering rooms and other auxiliary functions related to the cultivation and harvesting process.

The expansion is likely a mirror image of the existing operations, notes Brian Kessler, chairman of Riviera Creek.  

“We’re not changing any of our methodology, we’re just expanding our capacity,” he says.  “It’s really exciting.  As long as the demand is there, we’ll keep growing our facility.”

The company was granted an initial license to build up to 25,000 square feet of grow space under Ohio’s medical marijuana guidelines. A Phase Two expansion would allow the company to add up to 75,000 square feet, per the state’s regulations. Riviera Creek opened its doors in January 2019 and has increasingly monitored demand across the state, Brian Kessler says.  

“There is a need to make sure we’re meeting the demand for our type of product the best we can,” he says, noting Riviera Creek employs 30.

Demand for Riviera Creek’s Stambaugh brand has surpassed the company’s expectations, while the overall market for medical marijuana across the state is on target with earlier projections, Kessler says. 

“The Stambaugh brand is the leading product in the state,” he says.  “It has turned out unbelievably good. We can’t make enough of it.”

Volume has increased by nearly eight times since the facility harvested its first batch in January 2019, according to Kessler. As of Oct. 31, the state of Ohio reports that the program has enrolled 123,485 unique patients who have purchased medical marijuana.

Daniel Kessler, CEO of Riviera Creek, and Sophia Kessler, president of the subsidiary Amalfi Brands.

Riviera Creek produces four brands of medical marijuana: Stambaugh, Gypsy, Wildcat and Volney – all named for Youngstown landmarks or prominent citizens, Kessler says. “We really enjoy honoring the heritage,” he says.

As Riviera Creek moves ahead with its expansion plans, an affiliated business line has launched a new product that will allow patients to dose prescribed amounts more efficiently, Kessler says.

That business line, Amalfi Brands LLC., manufactures a product that presents a new delivery method for those who vaporize medical marijuana, Kessler says.

In Ohio, it’s illegal to burn marijuana, so medicinal users must vaporize the product before inhaling. Amalfi has designed a vaporizing apparatus that can accommodate prepackaged marijuana sticks that are meted out to precise, equal doses, not unlike a K-Cup used for Keurig coffee makers. 

Each cannabis stick is hand-packed in a nonflammable paper at Riviera Creek’s packing room. The stick is then inserted in a small vaporizing unit that comes equipped with a ceramic heating element that Kessler designed. 

 “This took me 3 1/2 years to design,” he says. “There are a lot of technical aspects to these units.”

A rechargeable battery heats the unit to the desired temperature, says Brian Kessler’s daughter, Sophia, president of Amalfi Brands. “The device comes with a charger and cleaning brush,” she says, along with detailed instructions.

Kessler says that the heating devices cost about $30 and patients need to simply purchase refill sticks, since the unit can last for years. Plus, the patient no longer has to grind medical marijuana from a bud to fit a traditional vaping unit, since the doses are already prepared and portioned.

“Now, they’re evenly dosed every time you use it,” he says. 

The device is also adaptable for hemp usage, so the device can be made available for retailers that sell CBD products, Kessler says.

“We’ll also be packaging and selling hemp in the future,” Kessler says. “We’re just distributing medical marijuana right now.” 

Medical marijuana can only be purchased with the approval of a physician and through licensed dispensaries across the state. 

“We’re focusing on a very narrow bandwidth of high-quality, consistent product,” Kessler says. “If they’re using this for medicinal purposes, we want it to be something they can trust.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.