You have probably seen a hookah. Most kids who grew up in america have almost certainly seen a hookah. But, like most people, you have likely forgotten what one looks like and what they are used for. Think back. Recall the tale of a girl named Alice who seemingly stranded in a strange, imaginative world. In Lewis Carroll’s story, Alice in Wonderland, Alice stumbles upon an arrogant and curious caterpillar. Perched atop a giant mushroom, and smoking what appears to be a strange musical instrument, the caterpillar asks Alice a quite memorable question– “Who are YOU?” The musical instrument is not really a musical instrument in any respect. It is, in fact, a hookah and this hookah-smoking caterpillar is the way most kids get their first glimpse of this curiously strange smoking apparatus.
When Lewis Carroll wrote the story of Alice in 1865, hookahs had been in existence and in use for many centuries. Though never really popular in European countries, the hookah was and is still highly popular in Eastern cultures like Egypt and India. So, how is it that this mysterious thing called hookah hasn’t seen its day in Europe or, in more recent times, the United States?
In the past, cigars are the’gourmet cigarette’ for those wanting to break from the conventional, cigarette-smoking mold. Crafted from higher-grade tobaccos and hand-rolled in exotic lands, cigars have become a genuine contender to the additive-infused smokes of modern day. Cigars have become so popular, in fact, that they have cropped up an entire industry that’s based around their existence. Along with cigar shops, cigar bars have shown that smoking-tailored establishments can be both socially-acceptable and huge profit centers for their owners. It’s society’s acceptance of the cigar bar that makes hookah bars and hookah cafes a possibility!
There’s absolutely not any doubt that the tobacco industry has seen better days and, from the aftermath of the Big Tobacco lawsuits, it is a wonder that these organizations are still around. That’s an awesome cocktail of chemicals that cigarette smokers are putting in their bodies whenever they choose to light up! In comparison, today’s hookah tobacco, commonly referred to as shisha (pronounced: shee-shuh), is comprised only of a couple of natural ingredients. These ingredients are usually tobacco, all-natural glycerin or honey, sugar and natural flavorings. That is 596 additives short of what could be in a normal, run-of-the-pack cigarette! Unfortunately, no major study was performed to evaluate the health effects of smoking hookah. So, we will have to wait for a definitive answer to that question.
When the Turkish devised the hookah centuries ago, they did so with one goal in mind. Up to that time, tobacco was smoked in pipes that are reminiscent of American Indian peace pipes. When smoking from these pipes, the smoke was at a temperature very near the burning tobacco itself. The simplicity of the hookah made it an instant hit and has been a significant reason hookahs are still prevalent in so many Eastern cultures. Though not originally intended when the hookah was invented, the water the smoke passes through really acts as a natural filter that helps filter tar and other impurities created when tobacco is smoked. Many years after the hookah was invented, someone would accidentally drop their tobacco into a molasses, thus paving the way for modern hookah shisha. It was the addition of molasses, now substituted by all-natural glycerin, which slowed the pace at which the tobacco burned and actually made it possible to heat the tobacco as opposed to burning it. Heating tobacco contributes to greater taste potential and lowers the quantity of nicotine that is released while smoking.
The hookahs of now, while being modernized and updated, have remained true to their creator’s initial goal. Traditionally made from glass and brass, hookahs are now being produced of materials like acrylic, crystal and steel. Also, the once hand-crafted artwork has transformed to a full-blown industry that’s selling record numbers of hookahs. Hookah shisha has come of age, also. Production of hookah shisha is at an all-time large and major manufacturers are creating more and more flavors to be consumed by clients worldwide. Flavors include everything from fruity apples and oranges to regional favorites such as bubble gum and vanilla. The precise combination of ingredients has also yielded a tobacco with taste that lasts longer. In fact, one person can smoke can smoke a bowl of tobacco for almost an hour without needing to alter the tobacco.
A small number of entrepreneurs have recognized the potential of the hookah and have started to open cafes and bars which are specifically-tailored toward the rental and sales of hookahs. In just a short time period, they have proven that there is some serious money to be made in the hookah service industry for those willing to venture into apparently unchartered lands. For most locations, as little as 10 to 15 hookahs per 1,000 square feet of customer seating area is sufficient and will virtually guarantee that there are sufficient hookahs to go around. When bought in larger lots, the cost of every hookah can run anywhere from $20 to $80 bucks and some wholesalers will even provide the hookahs for free if the bar or cafe agrees to buy their hookah tobacco from the corporation. Of course, the leasing plan is completely up to the business owner and usually includes a single bowl of hookah shisha to smoke. Lower-priced refills of hookah tobacco encourage customers to stick around and interact in the intimate environment. Most clients don’t smoke by themselves, opting rather for groups of 3 to 4 individuals. This will decrease the longevity of every bowl of tobacco and increase the amount of refills bought by each group.
Before you can begin renting hookahs, you must first consult local, state and national governments to make certain you won’t be breaking any laws or regulations. For many areas, a tobacco sales tax permit or license is all that’s required to begin renting hookahs. Naturally, this is supplemental to the normal state sales tax permit or permit. You’ll also have to check local zoning requirements and determine the best place for your pub or cafe. There are a number of wholesalers available to get your cafe or bar up and running in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s strongly recommended that you opt for customer service and support over pennies saved, since it’s often difficult to find companies that are in-tune with the American way of doing business.
In addition to hookahs, you’ll have to choose between a bar or cafe idea. Cafes are generally easier to open and require a minimal number of additional capital. The largest expenditure is going to be the espresso machine and this will run anywhere from $2,000 to $14,000 depending upon the brand, model and, if used, the age of the machine. If you plan the cafe route, it is strongly recommended that you pick up a copy of”Start and Run a Coffee Bar” (Matzen & Harrison, Self Counsel Press 2002). Although not hookah-oriented, it’s full of the ins-and-outs of running a cafe and what’s required to operate all of the a variety of cafe machines. If you want to start a hookah bar which serves alcoholic beverages, it’s definitely recommended that you start close to a college or university campus. This provides you with a steady flow of fresh, fresh bodies that will save your bar from going rancid with the natives. The hookah bar concept, when coupled with college towns, has proven to be the most successful and rewarding hookah business ventures. You’ll have to cut through significantly more’red tape’ but the payoff must definitely be worth the time and effort. Hookah bars are one of the fastest growing concepts for college towns and offer a fresh, new environment for 20-somethings to hang out.
As you can see, hookahs have edged their way into the European and American lifestyle. The cigar bars of yesteryear have paved the way for a unique chance for the entrepreneurs of today. Hookah cafes and hookah bars stand to make millions by providing the people with something that they’ve been looking for and have not been able to see in the countless different cafes and bars. Hookahs bring back the social, intimate gatherings of friends that have long been lost to the hustle and bustle of modern life. Your hookah bar or cafe could be the next big thing!