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mushrat

So, You Want To Start A Hookah Lounge : Updated.

262 posts in this topic
]I have a full business plan for my own lounge and I've figured out how to get around the TN smoking laws (at least).

The pic I provided was PrtSced from the TN Department of Health. I'm thinking it works the same for the rest of the states, but I'm not sure. Point is, make your lounge a private club, charging $5 to $10 per year or so and you should be good.

And a follow up answer: My lounge is not operational yet, still looking for my funding. Hoping Bill Gates hookahs.


[attachment=5416:15346_206499930291_710600291_3334498_1074151_n.jpg]

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Different states have different indoor smoking laws. Some states don't have any laws. But I'm sure if all Mush had to do was charge everyone $5 for a year's membership to keep his lounge open, he would've. So I'm assuming it's a bit different in North Carolina. Here in TN, though, I know of one lounge that does the membership private club thing (Oasis in Memphis, we already talked about this Hodge) but all the rest are come on in, sit down, smoke, pay when you leave. I thought maybe having food or drinks is when it's a problem and that's when you need the private club label to stay operating, but this place down the road from me called House of Hummus serves Middle Eastern food, pizza, and hookah all at the same time. And they're not 21+ or a private club. They're simply a restaurant, which cards you if you want a hookah at your table. I'll write more later.


Tapatalk'd via iPhone

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[quote name='HookaH Hodge' timestamp='1302240532' post='504638']
]I have a full business plan for my own lounge and I've figured out how to get around the TN smoking laws (at least).

The pic I provided was PrtSced from the TN Department of Health. I'm thinking it works the same for the rest of the states, but I'm not sure. Point is, make your lounge a private club, charging $5 to $10 per year or so and you should be good.

And a follow up answer: My lounge is not operational yet, still looking for my funding. Hoping Bill Gates hookahs.


[attachment=5416:15346_206499930291_710600291_3334498_1074151_n.jpg]

[/quote]


:ohsnap1:Dude this helps a ton......I have had some lawyer friends look at the laws for TN so that I could help my sister start up a hookah lounge in Chattanooga..........this is great........there were a few problems with hookah catering but I can get her a storefront with ease just needed the right loophole......Today Chattanooga Tomorrow the World Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Haaaaaaa! (in my big scary evil villein voice) :diablo:

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I want to open one up so bad! Just wondering, is there an age requirement. For example, you have to be 18 to serve alcohol ect. Well do you have to be a certain age to run a place, also getting permits ect. I don't have a lot of cash but my aunt wants to open one up and they are loaded. Thinking of them as a private investor sort of thing.

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[quote name='INCUBUSRATM' timestamp='1302271670' post='504670']
Here in TN, though, I know of one lounge that does the membership private club thing (Oasis in Memphis, we already talked about this Hodge) but all the rest are come on in, sit down, smoke, pay when you leave.
[/quote]


That's where I got the Idea

[quote name='KINGTRAE66' timestamp='1302276797' post='504683']

:ohsnap1:Dude this helps a ton......I have had some lawyer friends look at the laws for TN so that I could help my sister start up a hookah lounge in Chattanooga..........this is great........there were a few problems with hookah catering but I can get her a storefront with ease just needed the right loophole......Today Chattanooga Tomorrow the World Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Haaaaaaa! (in my big scary evil villein voice) :diablo:
[/quote]

Was planning offering catering in terms of the customer paying for the service, then throws down a deposit on the merchandise. Got the Idea when I brought the hookah to parties when I started The Hookah Club in Martin, TN. Also vending at some of the small music festivals around here, helps revenue and advertising. [img]http://www.hookahforum.com/public/style_emoticons/default/pardon.gif[/img]


[quote name='MichaelLCP' timestamp='1302312646' post='504753']
I want to open one up so bad! Just wondering, is there an age requirement. For example, you have to be 18 to serve alcohol ect. Well do you have to be a certain age to run a place, also getting permits ect. I don't have a lot of cash but my aunt wants to open one up and they are loaded. Thinking of them as a private investor sort of thing.
[/quote]

I know you need an ABC license to bartend in TN, but I can't have inebriated customers around the hookah. Maybe a wine with a 2 glass maximum. Trying to cater to the college crowd so I'm making it pretty much a Coffee House with Hookahs.

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Have the business name and logo sketched out and been getting familiar with the local lounges (phoenixhookah .com) and see what works and what doesn't. Through that site I created, I've created dozens of contacts w/in the scene smokes, club hoppers, lounge crowd. I now know several of the owners and have even done some promotions for them. From what I've got from the community, the ideas my friends and I have been piecing together for the past few years should be pretty appealing and make some $$$.

One observation people may find handy. Being the cheapest hookah lounge does not by itself bring in traffic, but it does create return customers who often pay in change. I'd suggest making sure you can fund some promotions on campuses, good high traffic signage, and fun promotions to keep your regulars scrambling to bring more people.

Now, just need my wife to be done with college so I can open the joint. lol
All hail the bachelor life. [img]../../public/style_emoticons/default/2403.gif[/img][img]../../public/style_emoticons/default/nana.gif[/img]

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Awsome Post man, really helped - what about Size of the place? what do you feel is the smallest you can comfortable go on a palce like this? i was looking at a place around 1200Sqft

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[quote name='Morakie' timestamp='1309973571' post='514867']
Awsome Post man, really helped - what about Size of the place? what do you feel is the smallest you can comfortable go on a palce like this? i was looking at a place around 1200Sqft
[/quote]

Lots of good lounges are about 1200, but they usually only can handle 10 groups comfortably though.
I was at this one Hookah lounge on a Friday that the owner said he was 4 times over fire code's max occupancy. It was insane, we sat with several people we didn't know just to even sit down. It sucked of course and we left shortly after, but they had a good 50 people on their dance floor. They had probably about 1800.

I'm looking at a medium place, about 1500+... Arizona's smoking laws make it difficult, but I do plan on having it open as a coffee shop w/ wifi during the day. I'd use the office to continue freelance programming, but my wife wants to serve coffee and snacks. I think it may make the store more profitable since where we want to open up at is high traffic of tourists and hippie college students. lol

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It's finally pinned, seems like this topic is brought up enough. Still doing the mortuary thing?

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Not doing the mortuary thing and I had roughly 300 square feet of seating. yes, you saw that number right. We were making more money every month once i got the kinks worked out. Save your money on student newspapers, coupon books, directories, and the like. Have a good web site, thats where people look these days.

No, the mortuary ended back in Feb. Had problems with one of my co-workers and it turns out i screwed up my back in the process.

Make sure you can go up to a year without any income from the place just to be sure....Underfunded will kill you faster than anything else even if business is good.

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Mushrat, you're right about people going to the web to find businesses... however actually showing up in searches isn't all about a website. Yelp, Google, Yahoo, and any other business directory you can get into. People on smart phones use their maps apps to find businesses all the time. Be sure that you are on Google Maps (part of Google's business directory), that should get you on Android and iPhones. If the map service wants to charge you, skip them and move on. All the major contenders that will actually get you traffic are free to submit to.

As for a website, Blogger.com is your friend. Seriously, its free and you have some search engine juice built right into it (Blogger is owned by Google). Take this from a web developer who works for Village Voice Media (New York Village Voice, Phoenix New Times, LA Weekly, etc), you don't get what you want 9/10 times when you pay for a website for your brick 'n mortar. Honestly, simply having your hours available on the site and a dozen + pictures, throw up some sweet deals ever week, you're rocking the SEO and your visitors will be happy. Facebook & Twitter is where you'll get the online community, and best of all, both are FREE! Now, if you really insist on spending money for something unique and eye catching, hit me up and I can either point you in the right direction or do it for you cheaper than anyone you're not related to. lol

Mushrat, 300 sq feet? WTF? There is only one lounge in Phoenix, AZ like that and it doesn't do so well... I think they stay afloat simply by having low costs and no employees.

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I did no advertising, had a web site that listed my flavours of shisha (63 i think?) and my beer list (50 giver or take)though i was on google maps and the local chamber of commerce sites, also a "what to do in NC" free site by the dept of tourism. If you put in hookah and chapel hill i was the entire first 2 PAGES of google and Yahoo search results without even trying. Not the first 2 entries, Pages.

My bar is long gone. NC passed a smoking ban that took me out.

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I found this topic very insightful from the perspective of someone who is in the middle of opening a lounge and needed a focused route. Thank you :)

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About the hookah catering deal my gf did it for about 2 years as her job she did really well enough to save up for start her lounge she's working on. She did it in orange and Los Angeles county. But she's know the people that want it she made everyone that wanted to smoke give her their ID (smart) ten when done they get it back. She caterted on yatchets raves parties anything u can think of she would charge depending on the size of the place she had upwards to 30 hookahs going at raves and huge partiesake about $2000 a night but just depends it was an up and down thing for her people want and don't want depends on your area u market in

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If you were to choose which hookah bar to return to would you return to a bar with:
excellent customer service (replace coals on time, lower the music if its too loud, replace your bowl for free if you drop it) , but poor quality hookah
or would you return to a hookah bar with:
poor customer service, but excellent quality sisha

opinions anyone? and why?

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If YOU drop the bowl? then you shouldn't have been messing with your bowl. If *I* drop your bowl then yes of course it gets replaced. That also goes for blowing water up into the bowl because you thought you were being all cool wouithout checking to make sure the ball was free.

My general olicy was if you fucked up your hookah you shouldnt have been messing with it in the first place and yuo are out of luck. If WE messed up your hookah we made it right.

The biggest thing you have to remember when you open a hookah place is plan it like you'd like a hookah bar to be, but run it like a business. You can't give away the farm if you know what i mean.

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[quote name='mushrat' timestamp='1313026410' post='519476']
If YOU drop the bowl? then you shouldn't have been messing with your bowl. If *I* drop your bowl then yes of course it gets replaced. That also goes for blowing water up into the bowl because you thought you were being all cool wouithout checking to make sure the ball was free.

My general olicy was if you fucked up your hookah you shouldnt have been messing with it in the first place and yuo are out of luck. If WE messed up your hookah we made it right.

The biggest thing you have to remember when you open a hookah place is plan it like you'd like a hookah bar to be, but run it like a business. You can't give away the farm if you know what i mean.
[/quote]


You brought up a good point, my concern comes from a customer side of experience, we've been to a hookah bar where we accidently dropped the hookah by standing up to go to the bathroom and they replace it for free, and there's also been hookah spots where they will charge us a "refill" charge. Competition is tough is SoCal and we stopped going to the one that charged us again because there's so many other spots we choose from, on top of that it was just a "typical hookah bar" (common brands and flavors, music off their laptop, nothing really original), thanx for the business owner perspective, i guess i need to start putting myself in that mentality.

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If knocking it over is a common thing then something is wrong with the seat positioning/hookah placement... Just fix that and you shouldnt have people knocking hookahs very often.

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Naw. I had an instance of 1 couple, only people in the bar, sitting at a 2 top, and they managed to knock over a QT.

Hookahs are going to get knocked over cause people are dumb. :)

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a few people said that they that they expect the hookah bar to refill your shisha for free after you smoked it all, am I understanding this correctly? if the hookah bar refills your dead bowls then why would anyone ever buy a hookah? This seems to put a lot of presser on the business owner. I might be mistaken or misinterpreting what I've read but this seems like one heck of service and unless your first bowl is super expensive I don't see how a place could stay in business if there just giving away shisha?

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cos a good bowl can last a long long time, so you only give them say... 3 refills, their money might cover say 4 or 5 refills.

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ya that sounds reasonable, 3 or 4 refills. I thought people were saying unlimited refills and I thought it was crazy but rather then charge them $5 a bowl just charge them $15 with free refills. good idea. My only thought is, as a new business wouldn't it be better to keep your price increments low so people don't feel like there paying allot of money?

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Don't start too low, because it is hard to raise them if you find you are not making any money. Better to start higher and have specials and such. You can always LOWER your prices if you need to and people take much better to that. Also, if you are the only place in town or are really that much nicer than the competition, don't be afraid to USE those facts to justify charging a little more. It's about Value. If people believe they are getting their money's worth, they WILL pay the money.

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