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ih303

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as to what could draw in people...what does your town lack? does it not have any middle-eastern type place at all? maybe offer kebabs, hummus, lebneh (strained/squeezed yogurt), with a dessert of dates and tea infused with mint or arabic coffee and some fresh fruit. screw it, toss the kebab idea - all i'm saying is that if there isn't a certain type of place around go for that; it's easier to be the one and only than be a hookah bar/ arabic snack bar when there's already an arabic restaurant down the corner who specializes in food. because you can't compete with them because they'll win every time. yeah you're a hookah lounge, but if you want to draw in the non-hookah crowd you need to get creative and be the first.

make sure the people packing the bowls know what the hell they're doing, nothing is worse than paying 12 dollars or so for some 'premium' tobacco when the idiot packing the shit completely fucked it all up and it smokes like somebody loaded the head with shoe laces. i wouldn't mind paying 12 or 15 bucks for a head if it smokes as well as it does when i load it at home, but it doesn't; it's never that good. that's why i don't frequent hookah lounges. there is one arabic place around here, Ranouche/Ranoosh, i don't mind going there because the prices are excellent, $6 for a hookah of Nakhla with $3 refills and $8 shawarma plates and $9 plates of kebabs. they also have tea and coffee

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i like the idea of limiting the amount of drinks, but im not saying it should be a bar by any means. because like you said Beer+hookah=HELLLLLL. so yeah limiting the drinks is a good idea... and serving alcohol at a place doesn't mean you are loosing your 18-20 crowd, you are just serving drinks to enjoy just like any other beverage. just my view on the topic.

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My favorite place to go charges 7.50 for one person, 6.75 for two people and 5 bucks a person after that. They serve tea and differnet bottled drinks like Rockstar, Monster, and Sobe. I like the idea of chaging for person versus charging per bowl.

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Hopefully cotsi or brad from Narghile Nights can chime in on this to give you some info. Narghile Nights in Fort Collins, CO is the best hookah lounge I've ever been to. I haven't smoked there in a while so I don't remember their prices or selections exactly, but they'd be a good reference

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For me, if its good shisha, good hookah, good hoses, etc, 10-15 is totally legit to pay for a hookah. one of the bars here used to do 5$ a person and would get you several hookahs running for groups. Another would do 10$ for a hookah and 5$ for each bowl afterwords. All of those were totally reasonable for good quality smokes.

Foodwise, hummus is awesome and the price you're asking is legit. Also, tetziki, babaganoush, olives, bite sized falafal, souvlaki, ful, small sweets, are all good. Generally though, I think having as little silverwear as possible is good. Finger food all the way when smoking hookah.

One here was experimenting with offering a 10$ hookah or 15 for a 2 hose. I generally prefer 1 hoses, and I think if you offered a discount on extra hookahs, that's a much better route to follow.

Another suggestion is to keep the music down or mellow, or have times when it is lower, the ones around here usually have loud blaring music and its just a pain. I guess it depends on the atmosphere you're going for. Another thing is having good places to sit, the ones around here never really got that right, it was always kind of akward. I visited one up in Hendersonville, NC though that just had a hodgepodge collection of armchairs and couches and it was just great.

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Thanks for all the feedback.

Just as an update, last night we were slammed. The amazing thing was is we did over $700 in sales from selling $5 layalina hookahs! I've been having my servers push that as a special because I'm trying to get rid of all the layalina to make room for the AF that I'm bringing in. And I don't know if $700 sounds like a lot to most of you, but for a place in Rapid City that does not sell alcohol, it's killer!

I'm pretty sure once I get in my AF and more flavors of Nak, I'm going to charge $12 across the board. I've kept my personal hookah on hand there with a packed bowl of AF for people to try and I've got nothing but incredibly positive feedback. I can see AF becoming our "bread and butter" so to speak.

I'm still going to have to think on the food. You guys have given me lots of great suggestions. I may start by expanding what we can do with Pita just so we can minimize our single use products. Keep the ideas coming, though.

We're also considering going the route of adding a full service coffee bar to our shop. I think this will bring in significant profits.

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wow that is great congrats man!! excellent work! yeah i def think that the coffee bar will benefit you a lot!! i dont know if im just addicted to the smoothies at my HB but i think you should also try and incorporate them in there somewhere lol tongue.gif

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QUOTE (ih303 @ Apr 18 2009, 11:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for all the feedback.

Just as an update, last night we were slammed. The amazing thing was is we did over $700 in sales from selling $5 layalina hookahs! I've been having my servers push that as a special because I'm trying to get rid of all the layalina to make room for the AF that I'm bringing in. And I don't know if $700 sounds like a lot to most of you, but for a place in Rapid City that does not sell alcohol, it's killer!

I'm pretty sure once I get in my AF and more flavors of Nak, I'm going to charge $12 across the board. I've kept my personal hookah on hand there with a packed bowl of AF for people to try and I've got nothing but incredibly positive feedback. I can see AF becoming our "bread and butter" so to speak.

I'm still going to have to think on the food. You guys have given me lots of great suggestions. I may start by expanding what we can do with Pita just so we can minimize our single use products. Keep the ideas coming, though.

We're also considering going the route of adding a full service coffee bar to our shop. I think this will bring in significant profits.


My only advice is keep doing what you did last night smile.gif

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QUOTE (koolbrew37 @ Apr 17 2009, 09:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My favorite place to go charges 7.50 for one person, 6.75 for two people and 5 bucks a person after that. They serve tea and differnet bottled drinks like Rockstar, Monster, and Sobe. I like the idea of chaging for person versus charging per bowl.


i went to "hookah house" in boulder, co last night, and that's how this place charged... i want to say it was like $7.50 for one person, $6.00 for two on one pipe, etc. before seeing this place, that didn't make a ton of sense to me. BUT, the way they were set up is they have different sized pipes and bowls that they match to the number of people smoking it. so i thought it was a great way to do it.

they also didn't serve alcohol, and it didn't seem to hurt their business at all. the place was almost full. there were around 20 pipes going. they didn't serve food, either. just good teas and coffees. a pot of tea went for $5. the tea went great with the hookah, and i imagine the profit margin on a pot of tea (3 tea bags) is pretty good. i do like the idea of simple appetizer type stuff like the pita and hummus is a great thing. another hookah bar i frequent when i'm in that town serves beer, coffee, tea, and simple foods like sandwiches and chips.

i'd say focus on making the smoke as great as possible (quality pipes, hoses, bowls, tobacco), keep the pita/humus and simple yet tasty appetizers, maybe do some quality coffee/teas since they don't take much capital to get into. i don't feel like alcohol is a necessity, so i'd hold off on that, especially with the licensing, possible legal issues with the income (i'm not knowledgeable about those, but they sound like a pain from what other people have said), and drunk people burning holes in your nice stuff and breaking pipes and maybe scaring off your classier or more traditional customers.

whatever you do, i think you'll do well. you sound like you care too much to do badly. and hey, no idea is permanent, so if you think something might work, give it a go. you can always axe it if it ends up being a dud.

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Ya, I didn't really think about the whole drunk people+hookah+coals=disaster. But, I do like the idea of just limiting people on how much they can drink. I do enjoy having a beer while smoking my hookah, but not a necessity. I would suggest pretzels of some type...its a nice munchy. Also, I would suggest serving something that doesn't have caffeine in it to drink. I personally have high blood pressure and caffeine really screws with my heart. Both tea and coffee have caffeine. It sounds like you are doing well as it is anyway though, so congrats on that!!

Btw, for most states it is possible to serve alcohol and not restrict people under 21. Usually you just have to make the youngins wear a wrist band or something. There are several places around here that do that. The local titty bar serves alcohol and you only have to be 18 to get in(at least last knew, I'm 23 so I don't really have to worry about it).

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Ok first you need to match your location to the type of clientele that you want normally but since this is already an established business with a fixed location you need to tailor it to your existing clientele.
no one on here can tell you what will work in you area unless they live there. your best bet is to ask the ppl who already go there to find out what they need or want.
use this forum to gather ideas but run them past your customers first before implementing them.
make a survey of the more practical ideas you find here and offer a one time discount for your customers to fill it out,but do not force it down there thoughts because most ppl will not want to fill it out.
place a single copy on a few tables (before the customer gets there, but only a few tables if you have 10 tables place a copy on 3 of them.) and then have a "small" stack on the counter (10 or less) that way the customers who are willing to help you can but the majority who dosent want to dont feel like your cramming them down there thoughts.

now also visit any competition you have to see what they are doing right or wrong. (dont just copy them no one wants to go a "cheap knockoff" of a popular place. just gather ideas and make them your own. (If they serve alot of food and its sells well for them dont rip off there menu but maybe consider adding more to yours. If they have a nice relaxing atmosphere consider things that could increase yours such as live music, redecorating, or depending on your customers adding games.)

if your community has a large "art scene" they may want a nice relaxing place where they can eats drink some fancy Impossible to pronounce coffee drink, smoke hookah, and have quiet discussions.

if your community is a "party town" they may prefer greasy "dive bar" type foods (cheese sticks, jalapeño poppers, burgers, hot wings) loud music, flashing lights, a large dance floor. (I personally hate these kind of places, but I am not your customer.)

If your community is a collage town offer a student discount.

to find the types of foods you want to serve do daily specials. and offer the food at cost if it sells well add it to your fixed menu (at a reasonable profit) If it dose not dont serve it again.

In business the term the customer is always right is spouted alot. but you and I both know this is not true. the real meaning behind this term is the customer should always feel like they are right. (if done right you can tell someone to fuck off and they will say thank you and walk away with a smile on there face. but on the other hand you can wish someone a good day and have them walking away thinking "what an asshole") In other words make sure your servers and other staff that have to interact with the public have great social skills. have an air of kindness about them(whether they are truly kind or not.) and have a personality that make you want to be around them.
most ppl will go to places where they feel like the ppl around them are there friends rather than to places where they feel like they are only valued for there money.

now with that out of the way I will tell you the kind of place I want to go.
(and remember dont just do an idea because I or someone else on this msb tells you thats what they want most of us are not your customers. altho I am sure that if anyone of us were within driving range we would be.)

I like the classic coffee house feel with a bit of Arab influence.

some place that is mentally relaxing ( music that is not loud but can still be enjoyed when not in conversation. a pleasing use of color and decor, comfortable seating. clean well light (but not overly bright light enough that you can read without straining your eyes.)

some place that has lots of drink choices (non alcoholic I dont like alcohol, but rather lots of teas and coffees both cold and hot.)

a good menu but more "appetizer" oriented (I want to eat but I dont want to feel like im in a restaurant and hookah and coffee is just an after thought.)

I also like places that have small rooms where regulars can go and relax (not practical if your limited on space)

I like places that have live independent music (not every night its nice to have variety sometimes i want to enjoy a performance other times I just want to relax.)

this coffee house I used to go to had something I really loved. they would have "movie night" on Saturdays. (they would screen old B movies from opening to closing. and charge a $5 "ticket" price to anyone who came in that was good for the whole night even if you left and came back (unless it was a to go order or something like that.) this was a small place only about 30 ppl could fit in it at a time and there was at least 20 regulars there from open till close on movie night.)

I like places where I feel welcomed (the above coffee house actually had a bar stool at the end of the counter that had a reserved sign on it just for me. everyone knew me by name. this was a small shop and I managed a store next door If they were busy I would actually go behind the counter and "help out". there was no smoking ban at the time and I would take my hookah in there sometimes while doing my paperwork and placing orders for the store and just sit and relax. and drink massive amounts of coffee.)

I miss that coffee house lol the owner was a collage girl who moved to Californian when she graduated and took the shop with her. altho I think I miss the collage girl more.


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QUOTE (outbreakpb @ Apr 17 2009, 05:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i like the idea of limiting the amount of drinks, but im not saying it should be a bar by any means. because like you said Beer+hookah=HELLLLLL. so yeah limiting the drinks is a good idea... and serving alcohol at a place doesn't mean you are loosing your 18-20 crowd, you are just serving drinks to enjoy just like any other beverage. just my view on the topic.


Like I already said this depends on the state you are in. Washington State for example, you need extra licenses if you serve alcohol to allow under 21's in. I believe you also HAVE to be a restaurant, aka Red Robin, with the proper licenses, can let under 21 in, but very few BARS can let under 21's in. So no, it isn't the same across the board.

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The best hookah "bar" I've ever been to was caspians in Memphis. It's actually a Persian restaurant. They had a full menu and desserts and everything. I usually got the cornish hen that was marinated in citrus and saffron and looked orangeish yellow, or some type of kebabs or the ground beef on the squer(sp?) and some adas polo rice (they had tons of differnt rice, that was basamati rice and saffron rice on top and then barberry's or cherry's and stuff mixed in it. the adas polo was raisens and lentils and carmelized onions) or the persian stew. And it was the best food i've ever eaten. We'd go in and smoke a hookah for 45mins then eat the food, then load another bowl and eat some rosewater ice cream with it or have some drinks. We'd go in there atleast twice a week and drop $80 or more. there hookahs were cheap though, like $8 for a bowl, $12 for premium, and $20 for special ones that were soaked in liquer. and liquer in the base (one was sweet melon soaked in midori with midori and triple sec in the base, and one was peach soaked in sweet tea with sweet tea in the base, i don't remember the others). and the food was reasonably priced for the most part (the lamb shank was $35) but you got enough food to eat on for days.

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Great stuff, everybody. Thanks a lot for the feedback. I will be posting pictures in the next day or so so stay tuned to this channel.

I have a question about hoses. I wanted to use something like a Razan or Grand, but the problem with those is you can't fit a tip on them. Personally, I don't mind swapping a little saliva at a hookah lounge but there are plenty who do. How do I solve this? Is there a hose tip anywhere out there that can fit over these hoses? How have you guys seen this issue be dealt with at other places?

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QUOTE (ih303 @ Apr 19 2009, 12:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great stuff, everybody. Thanks a lot for the feedback. I will be posting pictures in the next day or so so stay tuned to this channel.

I have a question about hoses. I wanted to use something like a Razan or Grand, but the problem with those is you can't fit a tip on them. Personally, I don't mind swapping a little saliva at a hookah lounge but there are plenty who do. How do I solve this? Is there a hose tip anywhere out there that can fit over these hoses? How have you guys seen this issue be dealt with at other places?


You can get hose tips that fit on the inside of the mouthpiece as opposed to the outside. Those work just fine on both Razans and Grands.

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QUOTE (jfaltous @ Apr 19 2009, 12:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (ih303 @ Apr 19 2009, 12:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great stuff, everybody. Thanks a lot for the feedback. I will be posting pictures in the next day or so so stay tuned to this channel.

I have a question about hoses. I wanted to use something like a Razan or Grand, but the problem with those is you can't fit a tip on them. Personally, I don't mind swapping a little saliva at a hookah lounge but there are plenty who do. How do I solve this? Is there a hose tip anywhere out there that can fit over these hoses? How have you guys seen this issue be dealt with at other places?


You can get hose tips that fit on the inside of the mouthpiece as opposed to the outside. Those work just fine on both Razans and Grands.


I've been to a few hookah bars with decent regularity, I didn't even know that the tips existed until they came with my hookah when I bought it. I don't think offering them could hurt but just a thought.

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Pistachios! Sell them by weight shelled or unshelled (I like shelled better myself)

Baklava (make a deal with a middle-eastern/metitteranean bakery for this, it's a PITA to make on your own)

Turkish Delight (aka Lokum, a delicious candy...get a few varieites)

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an option would be to use hoses with changable mouthpieces and make it known that indidividual mouthpieces can be requested for the session.....just keep a bowl full of clean mouthpieces around...boil them after use, that will sterilize them.

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jh303 throw up some pics man! ...maybe a pic or two with no one/minimal people in there and a pic with a bunch of people smoking and what not... i'm sure we'd all love to see what this place actually looks like! thanks

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I meant to take pics yesterday but got sidetracked with some other things. I will be sure to take pics tomorrow when I go back in.

In regards to the hoses, I really like the idea of those mouthpieces that fit inside the hose rather than over the outside of it. I've had my Razan hoses down there that I use to get the hookahs started, and people absolutely love them. I can get Grand hoses cheaper than Razans so I think I might go that route. I've heard they're a bit more durable anyway.

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i know the folks at coco-nara were working on a really unique design for "the tips that save the lips" give Ra'ed a call or check out the website (coco-nara.us) i'm not sure if they were ever released here though...that could be later, or a lebanon thing only...(they are the male style tips and should fit hoses with a large ID)

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