City News Toronto reports…

Abi Roach, the long-time owner of Kensington Market’s HotBox Cafe and one of the most vocal critics of the province’s initial lottery system for legal marijuana licences, has sold her popular business and taken a job with the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).

Roach announced on Twitter that she’s accepted a position as senior category manager with the OCS.

The news comes on the same day that Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp., announced that it has acquired Roach’s business.

Roach will no longer be involved with HotBox Cafe as she embraces her new role.

“I will forever remain the founder, and am looking forward to my new role at the OCS,” she tweeted.

Roach was a vocal opponent of the province’s lottery system, which was officially scrapped in January of this year. She told The Canadian Press last October that her company, HOTBOX, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing the Kensington store, and two other locations, for licences they were never granted.

“A small company like mine, which doesn’t make a lot of money, we spent close to half a million dollars getting ready three stores for applications … We lost all our savings,” Roach said at the time.

She’ll now receive a cheque from the same government she once accused of destroying her finances.

Friendly Stranger continues growth

The acquisition bolsters Friendly Stranger’s roster of cannabis accessory stores in Ontario.

The company’s flagship store opened on Queen Street West in 1994. It also owns Happy Dayz — a chain of stores across Ontario, and recently announced that it would open six new Friendly Stranger locations in early 2020.

Company president James Jesty said the addition of Hotbox is a perfect fit for its expanding brand.

“We are super excited,” he told CityNews on Friday. “We started talking to Abi Roach a couple of months ago and she was sort of indicating her desire to do something else and sell the business. So we are really happy that it landed with us, two really great legacy brands in the city when it comes to cannabis accessories.”

Jesty said Friendly Stranger would take efforts to retain the spirit of Hotbox Cafe — a popular Kensington Market location for cannabis enthusiasts.

“We’re not going to mess with it too much … we’re not looking to change anything really” he vowed. “We’re just looking to take it to the next level, expand it and grow it.”