I'm kinda new to this so please excuse me if I'm repeating questions that have already been asked, I very lightly read through this forum and found alot of useful information. My friend and I are also trying to open our own hookah bar, and wish to get as much advice as possible before we actually launch, we have done our research but we want to perfect our plan as much as possible before it actually opens. This is what we got so far, i wont go into details, just whats important. Feel free to critique me if I'm doing something wrong.
I am trying to open a hookah bar in Cali, my goal is to open in the first months of 2012. I'm in the military serving in Iraq right now but will be back this October, my friend and I have both set aside 20k each for the hookah bar bringing us to a 40k capital starting off, if more money is needed we have alot of friends that are making good money here that would not mind lending us some with no interest rates, so loans are pretty much out the window, and in the case we do end up needing a loan SBA has good veteran assistant programs.
We are looking to seat somewhere between 60-80 people, we understand that competition is tough in Cali and that smoking laws can be very strict in some cities, not to mention rent is alot more expensive, but we are not going to start off small. I read what Cotsi95 had to say earlier in this topic and he brought up a good point of all the expenses that come into play while running a business. Lucky for us we have met alot of people in the military with particular skills outside of their uniform that will lower if not eliminate certain costs, such as renovating our final place to our specifics, interior design, electrical technician, web designer, and even an artist that is working on our logo. Of course we are still going to pay for monthly utilites, so my question is: do these utilities really add up? I wanted to hear from those who have actually owned a hookah bar, how much were you normally paying monthly? and how big of a space is needed to fit 60-80 people?
Like i said before, we are aware that competition is tough but we dont feel like its going to be a problem filling a place 60-80 people in our hookah place. My friend and I are from two different parts of Cali so we are attracting large groups from both sides, this is not going to be a "friends smoke free" bar and our friends understand that, we have built a big enough reputation around cali that we will have no problem filling our place, this is not counting the military as well, we wanted to have a military discount, but have not decided how we are going to implement this. We have alot of followers in the military that will support us by word of mouth and coming down to support, of course they are not going to be smoking for free. We have struggled alot on the pricing of our hookah, i wanted to ask other business owners' methods on pricing, what has worked and what doesnt work, i wanted to see if i could get a sample from anyone that is willing to help, Our aim is to go cheap to knock out the competition at first nd maybe increase by $1 or $2, dont know if that is too risky or not. We did our research before we deployed and realized that alot of our competition lacks on customer service, that is something we plan on having an upper hand on, we have friends that are willing to "volunteer" to manage our hookah, these "volunteers" have extensive customer service backgrounds and are willing to help out whenever they can.
I feel like i've written to much so im just going to end it by asking for help on areas we feel weak in and havnt had much time to research it.
1. How many flavors is a "right" amount, we dont want to have too many but yet we want to give them options?
2. We need help on the management side, how many employees? what to look for? before and after operating hours?
3. Pricing? Per hookah or per person, and how much?
4. Sisha brands? We were thinking 3 kinds (Starbuzz, Fantasia, and Hydro)
5. How much is a hookah bar that size looking at for revenue?
6. Any ideas that might attract and keep customers coming? ( we have alot but want to hear what has worked for others, and what to avoid)
Thank You again,