Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Hometown ‘Peekskill guys’ hope to make retail history

Chris+Calabrese%2C+left+and+Kyle+Knapp+in+front+of+what+they+hope+will+be+their+retail+marijuana+store.+%28Photo+by+Jim+Roberts%29+
Chris Calabrese, left and Kyle Knapp in front of what they hope will be their retail marijuana store. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

Editor’s note – The Herald is profiling candidates hoping to open state-licensed retail marijuana shops in Peekskill. In this first of a planned four-part series, we look at “Cloud 914.”

Being a pioneer in a brand new industry requires a spirit of adventure, experience in running a business, and knowledge of the marketplace.

If there’s a formula for success in such a challenging endeavor, Chris Calabrese and Kyle Knapp think they have it.

Calabrese, Knapp and his wife Kim are the partners in “Cloud 914,” a proposed retail marijuana store that is on track to possibly open by this May.

In early 2023, Knapp started exploring selling Kyle’s Pub, his bar of 25 years on Washington Street, and tackling the process of opening a marijuana store. He was headed to speak with a different potential partner when he met with Calabrese. “‘Forget that, we can do this ourselves,’ Chris said to me,” Knapp recounts while speaking with The Herald this week.

For Calabrese, partnering with Knapp sounded like a natural fit. “It seemed like a great adventure for the both of us, a new business here in Peekskill,” Calabrese said. “We’re both from here, we both love Peekskill, and I realized this could be a good business.”

Rendering of what the inside of their shop would look like.

Like all ‘old Peekskill’ folks, bonds run deep between families. “I just discovered that my Uncle Jimmy was Chris’s training officer when he joined the Peekskill police force,” Kyle said.

New York state’s convoluted process of getting retail stores licensed and opened has dragged on longer than anyone expected, but the Cloud 914 partners have their approvals from Peekskill and now are waiting only for a state license to take over the 4,500-square-foot space where  Nardone Brothers Furniture store currently operates on Washington Street.

“Every time my phone beeps, my heart is stopping,” Knapp says. “Any day now we could get the word. For me [getting approved] it’s a no-brainer – it’s one email away.”

Putting all the pieces together

The partners bring different strengths to Cloud 914. Knapp ran his pub for 25 years right across the street from the new location before selling it. He knows the product as well as he knows the alcohol business and he’s done the research to find local people he knows to supply the marijuana.

And he believes they couldn’t have found a better spot in Peekskill. “Location, location, location – we have a killer location, with 50 parking spots, and access to more if we need them.”

Calabrese, like Knapp, is Peekskill-born and raised. He attended Peekskill High School, as did his parents and six other siblings. His first job was as a lifeguard at the Peekskill Veterans Memorial Pool.

He served for six years as a City of Peekskill police officer, and became the PBA president before transferring to the Westchester County Department of Public Safety for the next 40 years. Rising through the ranks to become the Chief Inspector, the highest possible Civil Service rank, he supervised numerous varied police functions with a budget of $58 million before he retired last year.  Today, he operates private investigations and accident reconstruction businesses.

Knapp plans to continue his history of giving back to the community. He’s contributed to Toys for Tots, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk, Peekskill’s Bravest and Finest, Make-a-Wish, Peekskill Police Department, Peekskill Fire Department, Peekskill Ambulance Corp., Town of Cortlandt Little League and Women’s Softball League, local sports teams, and various community arts programs.

Cloud 914 will offer a wide range of products beyond just flower and pre-rolled joints. They’ll also have CBD items including pet products, topicals, lotions, medical uses for cancer patients, patches, capsules and waxes. [Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in marijuana. CBD is not impairing, meaning it does not cause a “high.”]

Four different firms are candidates to open stores in Peekskill if they can win approval from both the state and the city. “We wish the others all the best,” Knapp says. “We knew going in, there wouldn’t be just one of these.”

About the Contributor
Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.