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Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

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  #1  
Old April 13th, 2009, 02:46 PM
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Default Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Ok I work @ and help manage Urban Cafe in Tempe, AZ

lately for the past 2 weeks ish we've been going really slow even on the weekends. We open @ 5pm till whenever but usually about 1am - 2am

We have the award for best hookah lounge in the area and have is probably the only one that doesn't use crappy ass QL's but for the past 2 weekends we've only hit about $300 a night we usually hit about $550-$600 at the very least on a Friday/Saturday night

Input from HP and Lounge owners what were missing here? We use KM hookahs with KM hoses.. Natural wood coals. AF/Laylina shisha...

Currently the restaurant portion has been closed down due to not having a patio and the AZ smoke laws but were been doing good for over a year w/o serving food. We are reopening the restaurant portion in about a month or so.

Please do not state location location because we have a very good location right next to Arizona State University and have been doing good for years its just that the past 2 weeks have been really bad.

All info is in my sig link to the site

All positive inputs welcome

Thank you in advance
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  #2  
Old April 13th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

I dont know bout the U.S but cafe's in london have had decreased business due to exam period, you might be having the same problem, students rather study then go out.

Hows the weather like? as i know when its winter and cold i hate to go out for a smoke, and decreased business might be due to that.

Have any other places opened up recently near by as well, mayb underground
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  #3  
Old April 13th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

hey man, ill get a feel for what you have, and give you suggestions in a while, just letting you know
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  #4  
Old April 13th, 2009, 02:52 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by patelbadboy2006 View Post
I dont know bout the U.S but cafe's in london have had decreased business due to exam period, you might be having the same problem, students rather study then go out.

Hows the weather like? as i know when its winter and cold i hate to go out for a smoke, and decreased business might be due to that.

Have any other places opened up recently near by as well, mayb underground
its getting to be summer time

its been about 70 F out at night times right now

I have put that into thought but I see a 2 local hookah lounges still getting a lot of business =\ one is about 10 miles away and the other one is 1 mile away. Both those hookah lounges use chinese hookahs and charge more than we do.... except the one thats 1mile from us has a belly dancer on Saturday night for an hour
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  #5  
Old April 13th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Could be the tobacco? Maybe people have grown bored with the same brands. Do the other lounges carry the same tobacco as you? Could be you might have to add a different brand and advertise you are now carrying a new brand of tobacco?
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  #6  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGPOPPA View Post
Could be the tobacco? Maybe people have grown bored with the same brands. Do the other lounges carry the same tobacco as you? Could be you might have to add a different brand and advertise you are now carrying a new brand of tobacco?
Both the other lounges use Fulmari and Romman I've only noticed 2 different flavors they have other than what I have and thats apple martini and starwberry kiwi other than that all flavors basically same except brands. We carryed Nakhla for a while and a lot of ppl didn't like it =\
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  #7  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

First of all, you say you are next to a college campus, and your menu mentions nothing of alcohol....

College kids love drinking, you may be against that, but i feel a lot of business on a friday night would be lost to that. if you are against this in your establishment, consider a BYOB policy potentially

------

As for food, is there any food served being the restaurant is closed at the moment?
edit: that is to say any snacks at least?

------

Decor...
With all respect, it is lacking from what I see from the pictures in your video... You have a lot of pale colors, very 80's suburban and honestly if you want to make money, you need to get more color, instead of using color as an accent, try painting the walls in bold colors, then you can use the plainer colors as accents....also if the walls arent textured, you may consider that to add a rustic look.

You can consider potentially some "arab" seating if you will, pillows on the ground sort of deal. there is a hookah lounge in atlanta that uses this method in half the establishment and there is a longer wait for this section....it adds to the ambience..but remember, plain colors wont do it, you need to provide many colors and arabesque geometrical designs all over this potential section to get the desired effect.

As for the tables, they looked plain as well, consider doing decoupage to decorate the tables, honestly anything to make them look less plain, cloth is obviously a dangerous thing with coals around and clumsy customers, however consider glass on top of cloth too....ive even seen broken CD bits covering a table in decoupage style....
-------

Do you mass e-mail the college? do you have a good customer that you can trust to advertise via email for you for a discount at your place? I used to get invites to random clubs and restaurants and hell even a hookahbar that was an hour drive away on my private college email account.

----
What music do you play?

----

Consider having a special night for a specific flavor you don't offer all the time....consider offering new flavors from other brands and advertise that you are carrying other varieties for a specific night via your college connection.

----

ill post more as more comes to mind
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Last edited by photolinger; April 13th, 2009 at 03:33 PM.
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  #8  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Are you putting flyers out at the ASU Campus and other local high traffic areas? Do you have a facebook or myspace page? Changing up the tobacco wouldn't be a bad idea. Carry both unwashed and washed. There are so many lounges in Tempe... www.hookahculture.com has a decent list. You should go check out the other lounges and see what they are doing differently. I've been to Urban Cafe on a few different occassions several years ago and remember having a good experience. Did you have more business when you were selling food as well?
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  #9  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by photolinger View Post
First of all, you say you are next to a college campus, and your menu mentions nothing of alcohol....

College kids love drinking, you may be against that, but i feel a lot of business on a friday night would be lost to that. if you are against this in your establishment, consider a BYOB policy potentially

------

As for food, is there any food served being the restaurant is closed at the moment?

------

Decor...
With all respect, it is lacking from what I see from the pictures in your video... You have a lot of pale colors, very 80's suburban and honestly if you want to make money, you need to get more color, instead of using color as an accent, try painting the walls in bold colors, then you can use the plainer colors as accents....also if the walls arent textured, you may consider that to add a rustic look.

You can consider potentially some "arab" seating if you will, pillows on the ground sort of deal. there is a hookah lounge in atlanta that uses this method in half the establishment and there is a longer wait for this section....it adds to the ambience..but remember, plain colors wont do it, you need to provide many colors and arabesque geometrical designs all over this potential section to get the desired effect.

As for the tables, they looked plain as well, consider doing decoupage to decorate the tables, honestly anything to make them look less plain, cloth is obviously a dangerous thing with coals around and clumsy customers, however consider glass on top of cloth too....ive even seen broken CD bits covering a table in decoupage style....
-------

Do you mass e-mail the college? do you have a good customer that you can trust to advertise via email for you for a discount at your place? I used to get invites to random clubs and restaurants and hell even a hookahbar that was an hour drive away on my private college email account.

----
What music do you play?

----

Consider having a special night for a specific flavor you don't offer all the time....consider offering new flavors from other brands and advertise that you are carrying other varieties for a specific night via your college connection.

----

ill post more as more comes to mind
Crap I didn't realize how out dated the video on the website was. We have changed the lounge. The walls have been painted darker and have added black lights and 2x flat screens on the wall. I guess we could compare the atmosphere to Fusion cafe in Anahiem. As far as the food goes there is none being served and we are re opening it in about a month. For music we have B4U, Zoom, Fuse, and lots of times we will play Hip hop off my ipod since that is what customers like the most. Some times we will even play a movie kind of like how Hidden Cafe in Anahiem does. As far as Acohol I cannot allow that I am not the owner of the lounge and the owner does not want college kids puking everywhere. There is only 1 lounge in AZ that allows acohol that is also next to ASU but they get just as much bussiness as us.

Thank you for all the inputs guys

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngriestPhx View Post
Are you putting flyers out at the ASU Campus and other local high traffic areas? Do you have a facebook or myspace page? Changing up the tobacco wouldn't be a bad idea. Carry both unwashed and washed. There are so many lounges in Tempe... www.hookahculture.com has a decent list. You should go check out the other lounges and see what they are doing differently. I've been to Urban Cafe on a few different occassions several years ago and remember having a good experience. Did you have more business when you were selling food as well?
we were doing very good even after we didn't have food for a while now suddenly were almost falling below $200 a night this past Saturday we got $202.xx the entire night....

I've been checking out lounges like Red sea, Harem, HB place, Silver q, X-Hale, Eddies but ehh our hookah reign Superior to the chinese hookahs and QL's they use
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Last edited by omgheyitskenny; April 13th, 2009 at 03:29 PM.
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  #10  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:45 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

alcohol is key. i personally go to one hookah lounge not because they serve alcohol but because they are next to a bar that does. if there is a bar next to you dont worry as much. but if there isnt, you have to look at the fact that most people go out to have a good time. good times start with a few drinks. I would say the byob is your best bet. and if the owner wants more business he will have to sacrifice his own policy.
Also some food would be nice. If the kitchen is closed offer fruit. its a good healty choice and i would always be happy with that. its takes all but 5 mins to make a nice plate of cut up fruit to go with a bowl hookah. offer tea to drink or coffee as well. cuz best thing about drinking before goiing to smoke hookah at a lounge it give you a perfect place to sober up before hitting the streets, so coffee and tea work wonders.
anything you can add to make the place look unique and different from any other. thats the best advice of all. if people feel like its one of a kind there is a reason a to go there.
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  #11  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

I know you don't want puking kids, but thats what cutting people off is for...and you are at ASU...party school of america.

i have never been to the cafe you speak of, can you post pictures of you own? and yeah the website may need an update..

It is mid april... could exams or gearing up for finals be going on?

could you provide insight on your advertisement...

as for your comment on chinese hookahs and quicklights....

the average person does not know enough about hookah to appreciate the nicer stuff...

My wife does not know the difference between my AF rig and her astro rig in magenta...cept that hers is tiny and looks pink.... she doesnt really get why I prefer natural coals over quicklights....maybe you should burn the difference into the memory of your customers so they can say, "well, naw, lets goto kenny's place, that other place uses the cheap shit man..." to their friends...

do you hang out with your customers or hang back? i find in a place like this, hanging out is better...
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  #12  
Old April 13th, 2009, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Quote:
Originally Posted by HuMMuS View Post
alcohol is key. i personally go to one hookah lounge not because they serve alcohol but because they are next to a bar that does. if there is a bar next to you dont worry as much. but if there isnt, you have to look at the fact that most people go out to have a good time. good times start with a few drinks. I would say the byob is your best bet. and if the owner wants more business he will have to sacrifice his own policy.
Also some food would be nice. If the kitchen is closed offer fruit. its a good healty choice and i would always be happy with that. its takes all but 5 mins to make a nice plate of cut up fruit to go with a bowl hookah. offer tea to drink or coffee as well. cuz best thing about drinking before goiing to smoke hookah at a lounge it give you a perfect place to sober up before hitting the streets, so coffee and tea work wonders.
anything you can add to make the place look unique and different from any other. thats the best advice of all. if people feel like its one of a kind there is a reason a to go there.
Hummus made me think of one thing....When I was in monterey, ca a big bar street was alvarado....after last call there was one place on alvarado that was still open, Taco Bell....and if you walked far enough you could still get to denny's, it had good business, but Taco Bell was PACKED.

When I was in san angelo, after last call...you went to a whataburger...

if you are in a good locatioan, potentially surrounded by bars, consider offering a place for people to relax in a quieter environment, offer some fruit or maybe bread and dip to absorb alcohol, and of course some water or tea to drink to do the same.... yeah puking kids i know, but also a ton of business....no one wants to go home after last call but the party pooper and the guy about to get laid.
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  #13  
Old April 13th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

last call is good business if your open passed the bar. quiet place to chill after a loud bar is always a plus in my opinion. you can talk unlike at the bars where its hard to keep a conversation.
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  #14  
Old April 13th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

We are located by one of the biggest bars in the area literally right next door in the complex and on the other side is a liquor store -.-

I also talk to everybody that comes in I'm not the shy type even everybody that comes in knows the owner by name etc.

I currently don't have a pic of the lounge but I go in Sat so I will snap a few pics on Sat unless they need my help anytime before that.

As for the exams part goes like I mention before there is two other local Hookah Lounges that still is maintain business to what looks like about $600-$800 a night =\

I go snooping around other lounges before going clubbing I usually don't like being at Urban (the one I work at) due to the fact I'm there all the time and so I go check out competition and snoop around
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  #15  
Old April 13th, 2009, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

in all reality its not decor, alcohol, or flavors... Ill be 100% honest with everyone people in general dont give a care what brand they smoke... all they want is "whatever".... I sell SOO much watermelon because it must be classic go-to flavor. I offer a ton of different brands and flavors... I think im over 100 flavors but do people care? no they get confused and get watermelon lol etc... its the simple fact people are not spending as much as they were. people are getting their hours cut. My sales went down as well. I have a good location... near a college campus as well... and before christmas I was pulling in a grand a weekend now pull in WAY less. I pay my bills and put gas in my car but it is by no means great. The whole country is in a down time. You just have to wait out the storm it will get better again.

Also... due to smoking bans in many states... even in ohio you cannot have alcohol in a smoking establishment because it would be considered a "bar" and you are not aloud to smoke in a bar...no matter what... alcohol would be a nice add on feature but its not realistic... to even smoke inside in some states a BIG percentages of income have to be from the sale of tobacco. Ohio is 80%... if you have alcohol do you think 80% wouldnt even be touched. People go out and pound beers and shots down... gotta keep that % to even stay legal.

Last edited by wonderland; April 13th, 2009 at 07:05 PM.
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  #16  
Old April 13th, 2009, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Times are tough, and hookah smoking is a luxury. Luxury businesses are always impacted the worst in poor economy and depression.

What are you doing about advertisement? How are you getting your name out to NEW customers?

To bring people in, I'd suggest creating weekly specials or a happy hour where certain items (or all items) are discounted significantly. The whole idea with this isn't to make profit, but to expose new people to your lounge. If the people are impressed by your lounge and atmosphere, they will return. People won't be impressed by coming to a lounge that is dead and empty.

I'd also suggest using more than just AF and Layalina. Expand to some of the more popular shisha like Starbuzz, Fantasia, Fumari. People new to hookah (noobs) will usually gravitate towards these brands since they have sweeter and more candy-like flavors. Still keep the AF and Layalina (at a lower cost). People like OPTIONS.
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  #17  
Old April 16th, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

You guys have so much competition in that location. King Tut's, Eddie pizza, Cafe Istanbul's lounge, Red Sea Cafe and Hubbly Bubbly.
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  #18  
Old April 16th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Haha we have a Cafe Istanbul in atlanta
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  #19  
Old April 16th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Quote:
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Haha we have a Cafe Istanbul in atlanta
Heh, how is the one out there? Ours has great hookahs and a decent selection but crappy management, cant stand the old grumpy man that works there that refuses to let us touch the starbuzz on display to see what it smells like.
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  #20  
Old April 16th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

Another reason for the slump in the takings might be that collage kids have run out of loan money have no extra cash to spend
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  #21  
Old April 16th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

You don't have starbuzz sniffing privileges?? That sucks. I always smell the Starbuzz at Cafe Istanbul.
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  #22  
Old April 16th, 2009, 04:32 PM
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Default Re: Help from AZ (need lounge owners inputs)

and it could also be that people are on/were on spring break. as if i remember correctly, there were a ton of AZ license plates here in san diego over the past couple weeks.
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