A Mummer and his son are opening a medical marijuana dispensary Friday at 300 Packer Ave. Alas, the bud-tenders will not be sporting banjos, feathers, and sequins.
Inside a former bank branch just off I-95 and I-76 will be George and Mike Badey’s third retail cannabis shop. Father and son — along with a pair of longtime family friends — previously launched dispensaries in Devon and King of Prussia.
Though transplanted to the Main Line, George Badey, 61, has impeccable South Philly and regional credentials. He graduated from South Philadelphia High School, the University of Pennsylvania, and Villanova Law, and for almost 50 years has played saxophone in the Fralinger String Band. George is a lawyer with a Center City practice and chairs the Radnor Democratic Committee.
“This is a return to our roots, a chance to come home again,” said George, who grew up on Moyamensing Avenue near Sixth Street. “I used to play Little League on the baseball fields at Seventh and Packer. I never thought in a million years we’d be opening a marijuana dispensary nearby.”
Mike, 25, is a young entrepreneur in a hurry. The CEO of Chamounix Ventures, the parent company of Keystone Shops, he is a recent graduate of Fordham University with a degree in finance. As a child, Mike spent hours at Fralinger’s clubhouse at Second and Mifflin Streets helping with props.
“We want our Packer Avenue store to be a destination site, in the neighborhood where you’ll stop for all your other South Philly things — like Chickie’s & Pete’s, cheesesteaks, and pretzels,” said Mike. He hopes, with the blessing of the department of health, that Keystone Shops may be able to sponsor local institutions, such as a certain string band.
Both George and Mike wish their cofounder, M. Louis Van de Beek, was still around to see the shop open for business. Van de Beek, who had an internal medical practice in Port Richmond, died of a stroke last August. “He was a driving force behind all of this,” Mike said, adding that Van de Beek studied the effects of cannabis on cancer and other ailments in the 1980s with the National Institutes of Health.
“His mantra was always, ‘The patients come first,’” Mike said. "We’re going to live up to his highest expectations, and we’re thrilled to be here.”