How To Start A Hookah Bar & Lounge


Shisha is a flavoured tobacco soaked in fruit shaving, which is smoked through a wet pipe called hookah. People from the Middle East; that is the Arabs and the Israelis are known for Hookah smoking, and the habit of Hookah smoking is said to have dated up to some hundred years back in the Middle East. Recently, the habit of Hookah smoking has quietly been assimilated by America; that is why you see some Hookah bars located here and there in various cities.

A Hookah bar also known as a Hookah lounge offers a cushy environment for Hookah smokers to come spend some good time smoking Hookah and taking alcoholic beverages. It is a very lucrative business to start as more Americans have inclined into the habit of Hookah smoking. But before you start a Hookah bar, you have to obtain some permits and licenses from the government to permit to run the business in your State.

1. Develop a Business Plan-: You need to take time to develop a business plan. The business plan will serve as a map for your business. It should contain issues like capital, how you will source for your business capital, ownership of the business, whether you will run the business alone or with some partners. If there will be another partner to the business, you have to define the partner’s role and contribution to the growth of the business, where will the business be located, where you will source for your Hookah smokes, business goals to keep your business afloat. Your business goal should be something can be easily attainable so that it will not be overwhelming for you to reach the goals.

2. Get the Necessary Licences and Permit-: This line of business is a very sensitive one, and you may be breaking some State rules if you don’t get all the necessary licenses needed to run the business. So endeavour to get all the required licenses required to run the business. Some of the licenses you need to get include: a Zoning license to permit you to use the building as hookah bar or lounge. Indoor smoking is prohibited in most States, so you also need to get an indoor smoking license to permit indoor smoking in your hookah bar. If you are going to serve liquor with the Hookah smoke, then you will also need to get a liquor license. Don’t forget to obtain a business license and business insurance for your company.

3. Get Capital-: After getting the necessary license; you will need enough capital to set up the bar. It is all the best if you are starting the business with your personal capital. If you don’t have the personal fund to start the business, you can find angel investors to provide funding for the business, or you can involve a partner to come in as dormant partner with only financial contribution to the business. But setting up a Hookah bar is actually a little bit expensive depending on how big the bar will be.

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4. Set Up the Hookah Bar-: This step will include leasing a store space that will serve as the Hookah bar. The lease agreement should be a long term one and have a flexible renewal scheme. Then you have to get the services of a professional interior designer to design your lounge or bar. Most of your Customers will be expatriates from the Middle East, or Americans who have been the Middle East; so giving your bar a Middle Eastern style, theme and music will get more clients for you. For instance, having colourful tapestries around the bar.

In all, your Hookah bar should be a cosy place where Hookah lovers can come together to have a good time. If you can set the bar where there is a sizeable population of people from the Middle East or maybe a student’s environment, then you will have yourself loyal customers in no time as long as you are able to serve the best Shishan smoke.

5. Employ Your Workers-: The next step is to employ workers that will help out in your hookah bar; and depending on how big the hookah bar is, you need at least two people to help out in the bar. One of the employees will be at the back end and will be in charge of hookah smoke preparation, you can handle this part if you are good at preparation of the hookah smoke; while the other employee will be in the bar to help out people who are having problem with their hookah pipes. It is better to go for employees who have prior knowledge to hookah smoke preparations, zealous to work and also honest. Having a background check before employment is important to check for prior criminal records.

6. Source for Raw Materials-: You have to find a supplier for raw materials needed for the preparation of hookah smoke; hookah bowls, hoses, disposable hookah, and various flavours of the Shisha smoke. The supplier should be able to handle bulk orders as at when needed, and should supply you at the cheapest price possible.

7. Advertise Your Hookah Bar-: This should be the final step in setting up a hookah bar. Advertisement is needed to let people know that there is a Hookah bar in the neighborhood. Some of the cheaper ways to advertise your hookah bar include:

  • Launch the Bar-: Take advantage of the first day you open the bar and get as much patronage as possible; you can have a small opening ceremony where you make a press release and send out invitations to your friends and neighbours from the Middle East; you can offer free smokes or great discount on that day as part of the opening ceremony.
  • Send Out Fliers-: You can ask for permission to drop fliers of your hookah bar in restaurants that serve Middle Eastern cuisines.

Finally, you can serve Coffee, sandwiches and snacks in hookah bar; it will attract even non-hookah smoking customers to your bar.



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