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mattathayde

Sahara's

ok so review for sahara's up here in richmond va. its on laurel and grace right on the VCU campus.

some of these statements are taken from people that used to work there as well (i will mark them as i write them)

ok so, its a decent looking place, a little run down on the out side but a lot of richmond is.

walk in, it looks like an old chinesetake out pace with a large side room that looks like an old bar.

the atmosphere is ok, they have booths you can sit at or they have a place that is up about 2 feet that has cushions all around the side/edge with low tables. they play loud rap music after about 8-10 depending on the night which can be hard to even talk over. they are pretty crowded on the weekend but there is normally space.

service is pretty decent but in the last 9 months there is only 1 server that has stayed the same just because i am told working there is really really bad.

shisha quality, pretty low. for a while they wouldnt mix any flavors there if they were "busy" which was basically always. they have gotten some better stuff lately but its still not very great.

people that used to work there told me that they do not change the water out except once a night and dont clean the hookahs, that would explain why everything tastes the same and dosent taste great.

service is good when you come in but can die off some times.

pretty good food though, a lot of standard pizza, fries, etc plus more traditional stuff. they bring pitchers of ice water for free so i guess that is a plus.

they are right across from a hip-hop club so there can be a lot of people out side and there are some fights and some violence in the streets at night, nothing huge but my friend got jumped one night and it is not a bad part of town at all

so in short

pros
-close to VCU
-not to expensive

cons
-bad shisha
-dont clean hookahs
-loud
-they hyperlink (club) across the street

ill give it 5.5/10

-matt

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QUOTE (mattathayde @ Apr 30 2008, 10:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
ok so review for sahara's up here in richmond va. its on laurel and grace right on the VCU campus.

some of these statements are taken from people that used to work there as well (i will mark them as i write them)

ok so, its a decent looking place, a little run down on the out side but a lot of richmond is.

walk in, it looks like an old chinesetake out pace with a large side room that looks like an old bar.

the atmosphere is ok, they have booths you can sit at or they have a place that is up about 2 feet that has cushions all around the side/edge with low tables. they play loud rap music after about 8-10 depending on the night which can be hard to even talk over. they are pretty crowded on the weekend but there is normally space.

service is pretty decent but in the last 9 months there is only 1 server that has stayed the same just because i am told working there is really really bad.

shisha quality, pretty low. for a while they wouldnt mix any flavors there if they were "busy" which was basically always. they have gotten some better stuff lately but its still not very great.

people that used to work there told me that they do not change the water out except once a night and dont clean the hookahs, that would explain why everything tastes the same and dosent taste great.

service is good when you come in but can die off some times.

pretty good food though, a lot of standard pizza, fries, etc plus more traditional stuff. they bring pitchers of ice water for free so i guess that is a plus.

they are right across from a hip-hop club so there can be a lot of people out side and there are some fights and some violence in the streets at night, nothing huge but my friend got jumped one night and it is not a bad part of town at all

so in short

pros
-close to VCU
-not to expensive

cons
-bad shisha
-dont clean hookahs
-loud
-they hyperlink (club) across the street

ill give it 5.5/10

-matt


As a previous employee of Sahara, i have seen actions that should have been reported to the Health Department and DOL on multiple occasions.

Unclean pitchers used, expired shisha( tobacco) is provided to customers, and the food is a joke. It is prepared, then frozen or refrigerated, then reheated for you.
If that wasnt enough they are the most expensive hooka bar in richmond, DEFINITELY NOT WORTH YOUR MONEY

Do yourself a favor and go to Mezza, Oasis, Bubbling, or even Aladdins.


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It's not the best place, but it's not too bad. The atmosphere is nice, in my opinion.

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as a former employee its sad to see that's how things have turned there.
when i was there i was a friend of the main owner, he had left aladins as a co-owner bc of some shadiness there.
the owner was a friend of mine and so I worked there for a summer to help him run things - i did bartending, dishwashing and deliveries.
while I was there I changed the water hourly on used hookahs. the food was fresh (i picked up most of the ingredients) and the music was played at an ok level still a bit loud
after i quit (the hours were 5pm to 3am) i noticed it started to go downhill. sad to see that happen.
the brand of shisha they had/prolly still have was nahkla because its tolerant of heat as most of the servers didnt know much about hookah and heat. half the time they would put a coal on top and let it light off the previous
i constantly had to yell at them to use the coals i had already lit and glowing red behind the bar.
it was more headache than anything bc of the lack of knowledge. one of the main reasons i quit actually.

personally the best hookah cafe in richmond was ali baba's but it didn't last long because no one knew about it. i think it was around for 6months or so before they had to close due to no customers. Edited by thecoalition

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[quote name='thecoalition' date='20 February 2010 - 04:01 PM' timestamp='1266699704' post='452632']
as a former employee its sad to see that's how things have turned there.
when i was there i was a friend of the main owner, he had left aladins as a co-owner bc of some shadiness there.
the owner was a friend of mine and so I worked there for a summer to help him run things - i did bartending, dishwashing and deliveries.
while I was there I changed the water hourly on used hookahs. the food was fresh (i picked up most of the ingredients) and the music was played at an ok level still a bit loud
after i quit (the hours were 5pm to 3am) i noticed it started to go downhill. sad to see that happen.
the brand of shisha they had/prolly still have was nahkla because its tolerant of heat as most of the servers didnt know much about hookah and heat. half the time they would put a coal on top and let it light off the previous
i constantly had to yell at them to use the coals i had already lit and glowing red behind the bar.
it was more headache than anything bc of the lack of knowledge. one of the main reasons i quit actually.

personally the best hookah cafe in richmond was ali baba's but it didn't last long because no one knew about it. i think it was around for 6months or so before they had to close due to no customers.
[/quote]


I worked there for two years, and I know every dirty secret about that place.

I know for a fact anyone who goes to Sahara is smoking expired shisha, and I know for a fact that the water pitchers are definitely never cleaned until the end of the night. So all the drunks who hock loogies, toss their cigs into the pitchers, even the other servers who clean the tables dump the garbage in the pitchers to clean the table easier.
The pitchers are simply dumped, refilled with ice, and then filled with water. That's a health violation in itself, and can give you hepatitis, or botchilism.

The guy who works behind the bar, who they've basically made into a slave, never gets to wash his hands ALL night because he is too damn busy. They take advantage of him SO hard that he's never in a good mood. He has to fake a smile to all the customers and it KILLS him. I know he's miserable, and I feel bad for the poor guy. I really dont know how the kid is still alive from breathing that shit all night for like..... 5 years.

Its disgusting, both Samir and the other new manager dont give a sh*t about customer complaints because they get so damn many.
They are complete pigs who are asking for a sexual harassment charge any day. I know a girl who had her dress pulled up from the manager and she ran out crying, I DONT KNOW HOW HE DIDNT GET SUED.
TOTALLY ABSURD NO RESPECT FOR WOMEN.

They just sit on their ass, eat sunflower seeds, and collect the profits while the servers do all the work.
They pay the servers crap, and basically expect them to do everything..

NOBODY tips because of the damn 10% service charge.
As such, its REALLY hard for the servers to have motivation when they see that tip jar empty ALL night.
Yet, they pay the cooks an unreasonably large salary, despite the fact the servers have to take care of the customer service, clean the damn place, and deal with any of the people who cause problems.

The management is simply a joke, the owner basically feels like he has his hands tied, because the manager is a friend, so he wont hire anyone else.
The manager has SERIOUS anger control problems as well.
He will fire any employee with a dissenting opinion on the SPOT.

Anyone who goes to Sahara is probably a freshman who doesnt know any better, and DAMN sure doesnt know anyhting about Shisha.

Sahara is a g**damn disgrace to the middle easten community. It's a shame that places like Mezza and Oasis, which BLOW sahara away have to struggle for business because stupid kids have their word of mouth spouting how great Sahara is.
Its ridiculous, Sahara doenst even COME CLOSE to the quality that Mezza or Oasis provide. Sure they might not be the party spot yet, but they're WAAAAY cheaper and WAAAAy better. The only thing Sahara does that those places dont is deliver, and they've had the same delivery boy slave for YEARS. Anyone who works there, simply needs their job.

Theres NO ventilation in the place, so I've PERSONALLY had to pull out like 15-20 kids who have had seizures because the oxygen level is so low. I myself have experienced health problems working there. Christ, I hock black loogies daily and I havent worked there in FOREVER. I dont even smoke!

I feel bad for anyone else who I was working with still working there. They treat their employees like sh*t and couldnt give a rats-ass about anyone else but themselves.

Kudos to those who have wisened up, I know they've pretty much lost the entire arab-community because their hookahs are nasty, unclean, tar-ridden pyrex pieces of garbage.
The hoses have chunks of tar built up in them because they're too damn lazy to clean them properly. They clean them like....once a week. If that. Its no wonder their customers have been reduced to kids from the west end and freshman students. They just dont know any better.

They've had repeat health violations and simply pay fines for such. They'll never tighten up, they just dont care enough.

Boycott Sahara. Its a dump.




Anyway, this is my list of what places i think are the best.
Mezza (quality shisha, cheaper than Sahara, really good food actually)> Oasis (also cheaper than Sahara, little food selection though) Bubbling (bright lighting though)
Ali Baba's was good too but it closed down.

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[quote name='broski' date='08 October 2009 - 10:04 AM' timestamp='1255014245' post='414399']
It's not the best place, but it's not too bad. The atmosphere is nice, in my opinion.
[/quote]


Try Mezza. You will never go back to Sahara.

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[quote name='soontobebanned' date='26 July 2010 - 02:28 AM' timestamp='1280125725' post='476349']
[quote name='broski' date='08 October 2009 - 10:04 AM' timestamp='1255014245' post='414399']
It's not the best place, but it's not too bad. The atmosphere is nice, in my opinion.
[/quote]


Try Mezza. You will never go back to Sahara.
[/quote]


I've tried Mezza and its ok. Sahara is more of a party spot though.
I'm sure if people give it enough time those other places will catch up business.

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I went to Sahara this past Sunday night (3/6/11) while i was visiting Richmond, and I was no displeased with my experience at all. When we got there and were seated, the waitress came immediately and took our order. I got a nakhla orange for my girlfriend and I, and it tasted fine. The waitress was incredibly attentive, and came by every 5 minutes to scrape the ash off the coal (which did make me wonder, and seemed kind of dangerous as she almost flipped our coal off the bowl repeatedly), but she was never long between visits. The music was a bit loud, but not so much that I couldn't talk to the person next to me. My only complaint was that the waitress lit a new coal and slapped it on the bowl still sparking, so as soon as she let go of it i pulled it back off to let it light, but thats happened at most shisha places I've been to. When we left, our bill was about $13.50 for 2 waters and a hookah, which isn't too bad.

We did not order food, and the drinks were bottled, so i can't speak to that aspect of the place. [b]N/A[/b]
The atmosphere was pretty cool, i like places that are more lounge and less cafe. [b]7/10[/b]
The service was very attentive. Even with the coal stuff it wasnt by any means poor. [b]8/10[/b]
The shisha tasted like nakhla orange, the pipe seemed clean, tips were provided. [b]8/10[/b]
Cost was at or below what i would expect to pay up here in DC for a shisha and drinks. [b]8/10[/b]

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I know a girl that worked there until very recently. Every male employee, including the owner and manager, regularly made sexual and demeaning comments to her. When the owner, and then the manager, started laying hands on her, she finally quit. What they did could have easily put them behind bars if there were anyway of proving it. The establishment is dirty and hostile, and the people that run it are scum, as this has happened to almost every female employee I've spoken too. Take your business anywhere else.

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