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Quade 'Leyf' Varga

I'm Opening A Hookah Lounge, And I Could Use Your Help!

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Hello everybody! Before I begin, I just want to say that I've read all the rules and while I don't believe this post is breaking any of them, please let me know if I've done something incorrectly. I'd love nothing more than to become a frequent poster here in aims to improve my overall hookah knowledge, learn from the veterans, and get awesome new ideas for my business. 

 

My name is Quade and I am currently working hard to open Stevens Point, Wisconsin's first Hookah Lounge. We are a relatively small town of 26,000 but are also a college and tech-school town. The college brings in around 12,000 people per year and they are my target market. I've been working on this business for a few years now and am finally approaching the last stages (Business plan, permits, renting a place, etc).

 

Now this is where I would absolutely love some help. I am enrolled in an aftergraduate program designed to develop a business plan. I have a couple of advisers that have been helping me along the way and they strongly suggested that I reach out to other hookah business owners (or customers) and ask for information. 

 

So...

 

Business Owners - 

  • I'll be straight forwards about it: Can I have a copy of your business plan, or a portion of it? 
  • What do you wish you had known before opening your lounge?
  • Any additional advice is hugely appreciated.

 

 

Customers/Enthusiasts - 

  • What is your favorite/least favorite thing about any hookah lounge?
  • What do you wish your favorite lounge had? It could be a feature, product, style of business...
  • Any additional comments/advice.

 

 

 

Thank you to anybody and everybody for your help. I am very excited to finally be getting this dream off the ground.

 

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Honestly, I think we are the wrong pool for your target market. My favorite lounge is my backyard because I never run into someone I don't know, and rarely someone I don't like.

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That's true in the sense that most of us that are sticking around here regularly don't really do lounges anymore, but there are some old threads you could go through covering all these questions, use the search and you'll get your fill of information.

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I wish your questions could have been more specific. 

 

Where in the process exactly are you? Have you picked a location and started the lease negotiation process? Please give us more specifics on how to help you. 

 

Also why are you asking for someone else's business plan? This is your business, other people's business plans are not a cheat sheet to your success. Each plan is tailored to a specific business with unique needs and details, of which are pretty much useless to you. If you want a template just look online. 

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True. especially since mine is 7 years out of date. But soemtimes its good to look at one that was really used. (i got no fundign using it btw. my funding came from a private source) That being said, i used about 30% of my actual business plan when that pesky thing called reality stepped in.

 

As for the other parts of my business pan. My spead sheets can be modified for any prices or products and services so they are hookah and bar specificic working templates :)

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i will help you, pm me

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Here's the thing...I think you're a little late to the party. Hookah generally is on the downward side of trends. It used to be huge for social gatherings but now people are getting together infrequently. I'm not pooh poohing the idea. I think you do a vape bar and offer hookah as a thing if people want to. Otherwise it seems your business will lose more money than make money. Just my opinion and observations.

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Here's the thing...I think you're a little late to the party. Hookah generally is on the downward side of trends. It used to be huge for social gatherings but now people are getting together infrequently. I'm not pooh poohing the idea. I think you do a vape bar and offer hookah as a thing if people want to. Otherwise it seems your business will lose more money than make money. Just my opinion and observations.

 

I strongly disagree. 

 

It all depends on your geographic location, but I would say the industry as a whole have definitely grown in the past 3 to 4 years. It still is a huge attraction of social gatherings. You just have to make sure that you marketing and customer service is on point. Please do not be one of those dark, blacklight flooded "lounges" that plays loud EDM or gangster rap that encourages a plethora of illegal activities. Make it warm and inviting, make sure you and your staff is attentive and friendly. Hookah lounge industry have a bad rep of having a stick up its ass. Some owners sometimes act like the customers owe them something. 

 

Lastly, please DO NOT sell vapes in your hookah lounge. Vape is a solitary, hookah is social. That's why it's vape STORES and hookah LOUNGES. (Nothing against the vape industry, just think the 2 should be separate).

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Apparently you havent seen the explosion of vape bars across at least California. We went from 1 in 2012 to 8 in 2014 just in Sacramento alone with 2 more opening this month. I havent seen a new hookah lounge open up in my city since 2013. That brings the total number of real hookah lounges to 4. I think what you see happening is an attrition thing. Only the best lounges are surviving in this climate, with higher regulation on the horizon or always in the dark corners of the hobby, it's hard to start a lounge and know where it will be in 5 years. At least at this point with the popularity of vaping you can make money even if you run an expensive or subpar bar. Supply is cheap, the margin is undeniable and not everyone knows what to look for or what their service and knowledge expectations are yet. Same thing happened to hookah bars. They blew up, got popular, people figured out who ran the shitty ones, they went out of business leaving the good majority behind. Now only the best ones are surviving.  

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I think by geographical location what was meant was outside the US. Hookah is still on the rise in Slovenia, going strong in Germany, Poland, and other central European countries, still spreading into the Balkans and Italy... It does however seem like it's losing popularity in the USA lately, from what I've been reading at least.

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From what I've seen, the uncertainty of the new laws is discouraging new hookah businesses from opening up here in the US. Also seen a ton of lounges in my state come and go, but that may just be because they sucked anyway.


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I agree completely with Bulldog.

 

It is a big risk these days. In my area I only know of 3 left. There used to be about 7-8 a couple years ago.

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