We discuss Phase-II at Planet 13 along with his recent Santa Ana expansion
Robert Groesbeck is what some might refer to as a Las Vegas veteran. Having lived in the area for the majority of his life, Robert is a fixture in the Silver State’s business community and was recognized by the Las Vegas Business Press has one of the top 40 Entrepreneurs under the age of 40. Not only that, but Robert also served as the Mayor of Henderson Nevada for 2 terms back in the 90’s.
Since those days Robert has teamed up with other co-founder Larry Scheffler to create the world’s largest cannabis retail operation, their flagship cannabis experiential store they aptly named Planet 13. We sat down with Mr. Groesbeck to discuss both Planet 13’s recent successful expansion into the Southern Californian market with their Santa Ana superstore as well as Phase II of Planet 13’s Flagship and what the future of the brand might look like.
MMR: First off Mr. Groesbeck thank you for taking to the time to talk to me today. Having a traditional industry background what originally drew you into the cannabis space?
Robert Groesbeck: My pleasure. Well to start i’m a lawyer by training and I spent many years in the corporate world as general counsel for a number of companies, primarily in the solid waste business. I had worked for everything from small law firms to very large law firms and everything in-between. That kind of morphed into more of a real estate play which is really what brought me to cannabis. I was actually sitting at a county commission meeting waiting for an item to be called for re-zoning on a parcel we had. They started talking about adopting rules for issuing licenses for medical marijuana in Nevada and that really peaked my interest. I think that was 2013 when I first heard of that. Now fast forward six years and here we are.
MMR: Yes, well in that 6 years you and your partner became an industry powerhouses in the retail cannabis space with your Las Vegas destination. As I understand it your flagship is now moving into phase-two of your initial build-out. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into the planning for the phase-two expansion at Planet 13 Las Vegas and what you hope to accomplish in the near future with that location?
Robert Groesbeck: Phase-two was just to broaden the experiential component of the facility. My partner, Larry Scheffler and I, decided early on that this is Las Vegas. People are here to have a good time, to experience the city and all of the venues that attract people. We thought, look, let’s do something like that at a very high scale in a cannabis space. Let’s make this a true destination. Phase-one was the dispensary and some of the support facilities, but phase-two was an effort directed to expanding that experiential component. Having a component of our production facility behind glass, for instance, I think that’s the first in the industry. Customers can literally sit and watch certain products being manufactured in front of them. It’s very unique and it allows them to be more involved in the product and we make it so they can understand exactly what’s happening.
We also discovered shortly after we opened that we have a lot of customers coming in and their friends would sit in the hallway while they were shopping. They were just playing on their phones so we started asking them what they’d like to see and how we could make this facility even better for them. The restaurant concept was what we heard frequently. We thought, okay, let’s do that. Now we’ve built a beautiful restaurant facility that caters to customers who may not come into the facility. Maybe they do and then decide to go over there and have a cocktail, or beer, or pizza. It’s worked out really well and it fits within our original vision. Everything we do, we like to keep it modern, edgy, and keep the customer engaged.
MMR: As part of the phase-two expansion, you had originally hoped to launch a social use lounge. Obviously AB-533 prevented Las Vegas from licensing out social use as they had originally intended. You guys are opening a retail facility in Santa Ana that’s also going to be a superstore facility. Are you aiming to do your first social use lounge there, or are you still hoping your Las Vegas store is going to be the first for on-site consumption at a Planet 13 location?
Robert Groesbeck: That’s a great question. I’d love to do the lounge concept here in Vegas tomorrow. But as you said, 533 put the brakes on that a bit. We’ll let the clock run on that and hopefully the newly constituted Cannabis Commission will be receptive to the concept and the idea. From a practical standpoint, I think that the likelihood of getting a lounge concept at the facility in Santa Ana is probably greater in the short term than it is here in Vegas.
MMR: What can people expect from the design and the scope of the Santa Ana project? Will it be something similar to Las Vegas?
Robert Groesbeck: Yeah, it’s gonna be similar in the sense that it’s designed to be a destination. It’s more than just a traditional retail store selling cannabis. It’s all about making it a destination and to do that we’ll pay homage to the California lifestyle. That’s really a big focus for me and for Larry. The whole idea is to really incorporate that lifestyle. The beaches, the surfboards, the palm trees. That whole vibe and that whole energy, that is Southern California. That’s what we want to bring to the facility.
MMR: In a previous interview with MRR back last March, Mr. Scheffler had mentioned you guys had hoped to take this experience from coast to coast. Santa Ana is obviously your West Coast touch. Can we expect to see something on the East Coast in the next year or so?
Robert Groesbeck: That’s our plan. We’re pretty aggressive and looking at potential opportunities now. I’ve been back East. I’ve been in the Northeast. I’ve been in the Midwest multiple times over the year looking at potential opportunities. Obviously the East Coast is very attractive to us for a number of reasons. It’s all about finding that right opportunity and that right location.
MMR: Is there any particular market on the East Coast that excites you the most?
Robert Groesbeck: No. They all excite me. Some of them are newer than others. I look at Massachusetts as being a very exciting play long term. Same with state of New York. I think Florida is going to be a very dynamic market when it transitions to rec. They’re all unique. They’re all different, but they’re all special in their own way.
MMR: Let’s say you could have a paintbrush and a blank canvas for Planet 13, what would the next five years look like for you?
Robert Groesbeck: I think in the next five years my goal is, and Larry’s probably a little more ambitious than me, but from my perspective I’d like to see one of these a year roll out in major metropolitan areas. Perhaps more. These are big projects. They take a bit of time, a lot of strategy, a lot of design, a lot of work. I’d be happy if we did one a year. I’m not in a hurry to do it. It has to be the right place. We’ve got a pretty detailed checklist that we use to identify sites and locations and we’re very deliberative in how we do that. In California, I think we looked at close to a hundred sites before we landed on the current site.
To read our interview with Co-CEO and Co-Founder Larry Scheffler, please CLICK HERE.