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Riviera Creek to expand

Crescent Street site to double rooms used

A.J. Thomas, Riviera Creek sales manager, stands among the medical marijuana harvested at the Youngstown facility.

YOUNGSTOWN — Riviera Creek, the Mahoning Valley’s only medical marijuana grow facility, is in the process of doubling the number of rooms used to grow its product.

The facility on Crescent Street received its certificate to operate in late 2018 and started operating in January 2019 with two grow rooms — and doubled that in the past couple of years.

It will add another room, where the marijuana flowers grow in a unique aeroponics system — using LED lights, nutrients, water and air with no soil — next week and another room two weeks after that, said Brian Kessler, Riviera Creek’s board chairman. It will then add two more by early next year, he said.

“Since Riviera opened, we’ve expanded to provide one item to now a dozen,” Kessler said.

The company produces vaporizer products for vaping, one of the approved methods in Ohio to inject medical marijuana.

Riviera’s state license allows it to grow in up to 25,000 square feet of space.

“As long as there is demand for our product, we’ll continue to grow,” Kessler said.

The company uses about 9,200 square feet and is adding 6,000 more, said Daniel Kessler, its CEO.

The aeroponic system is a more stable way to grow marijuana than using soil, he said.

“There are no pesticides in our product,” Kessler said. “There are no chemicals used. It’s all water and ice, pressure and heat. It’s a far more sophisticated way of producing the product. It’s more consistent.”

“You have variables with soil that are unpredictable,” Brian Kessler said. “Our goal was to find a way to deliver stable product from batch to batch to batch. That hasn’t existed in the world of cannabis. We’ve been able to do that.”

He added: “When you go and buy a Budweiser, every time you buy a Budweiser, it looks the same, it tastes the same and the dosing is the same so you know how to interact with it. Most importantly when you go to buy medicine and you get a Tylenol, that Tylenol works almost exactly the same every time you buy it. In the world of cannabis, that hasn’t been true.”

The aeroponic method has given Riviera the consistency needed for a successful product, he said.

The company’s best-selling product is Stambaugh.

“It is the best-selling brand in the state,” Brian Kessler said. “Hundreds of thousands of units have been sold since 2019.”

The other brands also pay tribute to the Mahoning Valley including Wildcat and Lost River, named after two rides at the former Idora Park.

The latest brand, which came out a couple of months ago, is Avanti, a car that was run out of Youngstown from 1987 to 1991 that was supposed to help stem the massive job losses in the Valley from the closure of the steel mills. The company sold about 400 Avantis during its time in Youngstown before closing.

“Some of our names are tongue-in-cheek,” Brian Kessler said.

Riviera employs about 70 people, and that will expand to close to 100 by the time the expansion is done in February 2023, he said.

Riviera distributes to all 58 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. There will be 70 more dispensaries by next March.

“Having more doors gives us more opportunity to reach patients,” Kessler said. “That’s been a problem having only 58 stores. When we go to a drug store, it’s five minutes away. Using cannabis for medicinal purposes, and you have to drive an hour to get it, you’re only going to go so often. The truth is even 128 stores for the size of our state and populace is still one-third of what most markets are that have had cannabis for a while. It’s just scratching the surface.”

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