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Opening up a Lounge

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  #1  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 05:56 AM
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Smile Opening up a Lounge

I know there have been many topics on opening a hookah lounge, and I have searched and read a majority if not all of them. So let me layout and explain what we have so far.

A friend and I plan on opening a hookah lounge in Virginia when we return from Deployment. We have most of the prices planned out such as prices and brands/flavors. As of right now we have 5 brands (Starbuzz, Tangiers, Romman, Al Fakher, Hydro Herbal) 3 of the brands will have 8 flavors each as of right now but this is just a base to work off of. The 5th brand which is Hydro Herbal (tobacco/nicotine free) would be for others and that would only have 5 flavors ((Any experience on this brand would be greatly appreciated)) Romman will only have 4 flavors because of it being 'premier' and more expensive than Starbuzz.

We plan on spending 2170 for a base stock on Shisha with 3600 on hookahs (30 hookahs at about $120 a piece) so we have a initial base to start up. We plan on spending $2750 a month for rent with $1000 spent on decorations/furniture (couches/chairs would be yard sale/goodwill) and another $1000 on advertisement to start up and get some recognition. The location would be oceanfront/city where it is busy year round plus tourism. Utilities such as water, electricity and wi-fi are set at $400 a month. All hookah accessories such like coals and mouth tips are both set at $500. All of that came out to about $12750 for start up including a building, hookah/shisha with accessories, as well as utilities.

--- We based out prices off of hookah-shisha.com, although we do not know if they are a wholesaler/supplier. I have e-mailed them but no response yet.

We are missing permits/licenses and a name, because we really can't find much on what type of license to get or anything of that sort. ANY help or tips would be greatly appreciated. We are serious about making this work and would like any help that could be provided. Feel free to e-mail me at arbinoj@cox.net or AIM at: Xx Kanida xX. THANKS AGAIN!
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  #2  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

http://www.hookahpro.com/forum/showt...ght=wonderland

In it he says

"Also, make sure you get ALL liceses. There are multiple. In my state... I have a retail tobacco license, vendor, excise, and LLC. Also, make sure you have all your inspections. If you are going to serve food... well thats a whole other story. The best thing is to get a lawyer. Cover your ass."

If that doesn't help you im sure if you msg him he'd be more than happy to help you.
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  #3  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

I have read that forum, we do plan on selling snacks and giving out a free comp. snack bowl per table for a hookah/bowl purchase. I will have to message him on more information for the license/permits. I appreciate the help!
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  #4  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:16 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

$12750

lol? I know many local hookah bar owners who have dropped 50k+
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  #5  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

hookah-shisha often set there prices really high,
id go for some1 like **********.
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  #6  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by FusionX View Post
$12750

lol? I know many local hookah bar owners who have dropped 50k+
For a more "high-end" lounge I can see 50k. Because thats assuming he is serving an open bar?

My firends father owns a hookah lounge in Saint Petersburg Florida and its amazing, he said he only spent 15k to start it up. Very traditional, lounge/cafe environment not nightclub/bar feel. I love it! he recently starting giving a free round (4 max) of beer (cheap domestic of coarse) to people of age buying. But he also gives complementary waters and arabic coffees with your hookah. He set up a pretty authentic arabic air to the place, and even the younger crowd enjoys the relaxing environment. I would say that the variety of shisha you will be offering may be a downfall, most lounges I go to serve one brand exclusively
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  #7  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:02 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Well see that's another problem. I do not see why people need 50K to open up a lounge, I understand if they spend money on brand new furniture, alcoholic drinks and a staff. My partner and I will not be selling alcohol because of the age restriction. We are trying to keep it open up to the 18+ age range. We would be running the lounge just us two and his wife, so we would not be paying staff. Plus all decorations will be used at first then we'd upgrade. We've priced everything from hookah's and shisha, with a place of business, we've accounted for everything we can think of except for licenses and permits. We only came out to 12750 and that is without a business wholesale with an EIN number.

We are only looking to open a hookah lounge at first, a urban/laid back area to smoke and meet people. We would eventually upgrade with more/better furniture and equipment. In the long run we plan on opening a shop to sell out of as well as run a lounge.

Edit: And to comment on the shisha brands. We want to have brands available as well as flavors. This would only be a start up base, we would of course expand to more flavors with each brand.

Last edited by Nakura18; December 23rd, 2009 at 08:05 AM.
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  #8  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

You can get hookahs for a lot cheaper then 120 a pop, at wholesale, if i was buying 30 i would go to a KM/MYA wholesaler and get it direct from them, or a major vendor, im sure they would give you a better discount.

Also the $2170 how much tobacco will you get, as im sure you will need at least 20kilos to start of with.

Have you found a location yet sa goodwill might be a bit more, i should now, as i had a plan to open a lounge up in london and bugdet was 20k but after more reasearch i found i needed at least 40k.

Also i dont know bout US, but in the UK landlords want at least 6 months rent in advance
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  #9  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:22 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Quote:
Originally Posted by patelbadboy2006 View Post
You can get hookahs for a lot cheaper then 120 a pop, at wholesale, if i was buying 30 i would go to a KM/MYA wholesaler and get it direct from them, or a major vendor, im sure they would give you a better discount.

Also the $2170 how much tobacco will you get, as im sure you will need at least 20kilos to start of with.

Have you found a location yet sa goodwill might be a bit more, i should now, as i had a plan to open a lounge up in london and bugdet was 20k but after more reasearch i found i need at leas 40.

Also i dont know bout US, but in the UK landlords want at least 6 months rent in advance
I understand that buying from a wholesaler would be a lot cheaper, we only based our prices as if we were just normal customers buying in bulk. We planned on 1KG of each flavor as a base, 2KG for popular flavors such as Starbuzz Bluemist and X on the Beach. Roughly we have about 28-30KG of shisha all together for start up. We have a general idea for a business location, and we took an average price and based things off of that, roughly $2750 a month for 1500sq/f (Would that be a decent size to start off?) -- Thanks for all the responses, lets us run our ideas with each other and re-plan if needed.
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  #10  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

I don't know anything about opening up a lounge, but you asked for feedback on Hydro. I have smoked Black Label and Hydro and I must say Hydro wins. I get a good 45 minute to an hour session with Hydro. The flavor is strong throughout the whole session and never dies. What you smell is what you get and they all smell and taste great. My wife loves the Hydro because it tastes fantastic and she is not one for a buzz. I do admit, if I just want to smoke for the taste and a relaxing time, Hydro is what I turn to. If I want a buzz, well that's a different story.

I think you should include Nakhla in your tobacco list. Many people enjoy it and may be disappointed if you do not offer it.
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  #11  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:35 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by CaptHowdy View Post
I don't know anything about opening up a lounge, but you asked for feedback on Hydro. I have smoked Black Label and Hydro and I must say Hydro wins. I get a good 45 minute to an hour session with Hydro. The flavor is strong throughout the whole session and never dies. What you smell is what you get and they all smell and taste great. My wife loves the Hydro because it tastes fantastic and she is not one for a buzz. I do admit, if I just want to smoke for the taste and a relaxing time, Hydro is what I turn to. If I want a buzz, well that's a different story.

I think you should include Nakhla in your tobacco list. Many people enjoy it and may be disappointed if you do not offer it.
Great to hear! Thank you so much for the feedback. I haven't had any experience or know any one who has so that helps a lot. As for Nakhla we have considered it, what would you compare Nakhla to such as Starbuzz, Al Fakher, and Tangiers? We wanted to provide an overall wide range of brands/flavors for experience from well known and decent brands.
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  #12  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:39 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Compare Nakhla? LMAO! Sorry, didn't mean to come off as rude. Early in the morning and at work, I found it funny for some reason.

Nakhla is god to the rest of the tobacco. There is no comparison.
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  #13  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:43 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by CaptHowdy View Post
Compare Nakhla? LMAO! Sorry, didn't mean to come off as rude. Early in the morning and at work, I found it funny for some reason.

Nakhla is god to the rest of the tobacco. There is no comparison.
Hahaha sorry! I haven't had experience with Nakhla, the hookah lounges i've been to have only offered Starbuzz and Tangiers across them all, some with Hookah Hookah and others with Al Fakher as another brand. If you consider Nakhla as 'god' to other brands then we will definitely add it to the list. Thanks for the advice!

So the list as of right now will consist of Starbuzz, Tangiers, Romman, Hydro Herbal, Al Fakher, and Nakhla.
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  #14  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

You can cut your initial hookah purchase costs by half. You can get KM's wholesale for $60, tops. If you are willing to do a lot of the physical work your self, and you go for a more traditional atmosphere, you should be able to bring the remodel costs in for less then 15k easily. We started our lounge for 10k, and over the last 3 years have added to it as needed. Still have less then 30k in it completely, including projection tv and all new flooring. Had a guy open up a hookah lounge 2 blocks down the street from us last year. He dropped 80k, went wild with everything, lasted 8 months, and we recently bought all his stuff for 20 cents on the dollar when he went out. I can't stress enough- it's about the atmosphere, not about the money spent. Food? We serve snacks, but people don't come to a hookah lounge to eat. Snacks, c offee, tea, lemonade, pop, water- OK. But if you want to serve food, open a restaurant. Food brings a whole new level of licenses, permits, and inspectors, and most importantly labor costs, and it's almost always a loss leader anyway. Ask any bar owner, there's no money in the food end. Call the cities building and permit department, and they will either give you the info you need, ot steer you towards who can. Work with them, NOT against them. If you want some help, e.m. me at bassem@medwakh.com anytime. Good Luck!!
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  #15  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassem View Post
You can cut your initial hookah purchase costs by half. You can get KM's wholesale for $60, tops. If you are willing to do a lot of the physical work your self, and you go for a more traditional atmosphere, you should be able to bring the remodel costs in for less then 15k easily. We started our lounge for 10k, and over the last 3 years have added to it as needed. Still have less then 30k in it completely, including projection tv and all new flooring. Had a guy open up a hookah lounge 2 blocks down the street from us last year. He dropped 80k, went wild with everything, lasted 8 months, and we recently bought all his stuff for 20 cents on the dollar when he went out. I can't stress enough- it's about the atmosphere, not about the money spent. Food? We serve snacks, but people don't come to a hookah lounge to eat. Snacks, c offee, tea, lemonade, pop, water- OK. But if you want to serve food, open a restaurant. Food brings a whole new level of licenses, permits, and inspectors, and most importantly labor costs, and it's almost always a loss leader anyway. Ask any bar owner, there's no money in the food end. Call the cities building and permit department, and they will either give you the info you need, ot steer you towards who can. Work with them, NOT against them. If you want some help, e.m. me at bassem@medwakh.com anytime. Good Luck!!
That is awesome to hear! We do plan on modeling, painting and working things ourselves rather than paying others to do it or buying top notch. We do believe that atmosphere is the most important aspect and that is why we are still working on the theme or our place. We do plan on selling drinks such as water and bottled soda/juice, as well as snacks as well. I agree people do not go to lounges to eat but rather to relax, chill and have a good time! We haven't set our prices to a wholesale cost so when we do compare to wholesale we'll either save a lot of bulk up more on hookah's and shisha or more into the decoration/furniture area.

I believe that there is no reason you need more than 15K-20K to start up, and easily add on as the time comes. No reason to smash down on expensive things, like you said it is all about the atmosphere rather than luxury. Thanks for the information, that has really helped a lot considering you have accomplished what we plan on to without the ridiculous 50K-80K (Considering they are not supplying staff and alcohol.)
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  #16  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

If I might also suggest- before you invest in a location, or buy your goods, take a road trip and visit 8 or 10 successful hookah lounges. I'm sure the good members of this forum can steer you towards their favorite lounges, and I'm sure those lounge owners would be glad to sit down with you and give you their pointers. Then with that info, and everything that you saw and liked and as importantly, didn't like, take it home with you and blend it with your own situation. Learn from our successes and mistakes. You would be welcome anytime at our lounge, and I would be more then happy to sit with you and help anyway possible. I know other lounge owners would also.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 10:54 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by Bassem View Post
If I might also suggest- before you invest in a location, or buy your goods, take a road trip and visit 8 or 10 successful hookah lounges. I'm sure the good members of this forum can steer you towards their favorite lounges, and I'm sure those lounge owners would be glad to sit down with you and give you their pointers. Then with that info, and everything that you saw and liked and as importantly, didn't like, take it home with you and blend it with your own situation. Learn from our successes and mistakes. You would be welcome anytime at our lounge, and I would be more then happy to sit with you and help anyway possible. I know other lounge owners would also.
We will definitely do a road trip, we've been to a few in Virginia but traveling out of state along the east coast to visit hookah lounges will help a lot when considering plans of success and mistakes. I will have to take recommendations on that from everyone to create a list!
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  #18  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:36 AM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Nakura, hookah-shisha is their store for personal use. I did some digging and here is the info you are needing from them. You will need to contact them for a price list. Same people, just two different things. I love hookah-shisha so much that I use them for everything and reccomend when I can. Since I know they are wholesalers, I figured I would pass along the info to you.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:13 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by CaptHowdy View Post
Nakura, hookah-shisha is their store for personal use. I did some digging and here is the info you are needing from them. You will need to contact them for a price list. Same people, just two different things. I love hookah-shisha so much that I use them for everything and reccomend when I can. Since I know they are wholesalers, I figured I would pass along the info to you.
Thank you, I appreciate the thought. I have e-mailed them about the issue but still waiting on a response. Someone mentioned '**********' earlier but I have had no experience with him, also haven't compared prices. I will have to check both out and compare but I have dealt with hookah-shisha on a personal base so they are what I am used to. But I will have to look around for bulk orders of hookah such as KM like patelbadboy and Bassem had mentioned!
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  #20  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:46 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nakura18 View Post
Hahaha sorry! I haven't had experience with Nakhla, the hookah lounges i've been to have only offered Starbuzz and Tangiers across them all, some with Hookah Hookah and others with Al Fakher as another brand. If you consider Nakhla as 'god' to other brands then we will definitely add it to the list. Thanks for the advice!

So the list as of right now will consist of Starbuzz, Tangiers, Romman, Hydro Herbal, Al Fakher, and Nakhla.

Also consider that Nakhla is cheap as hell!
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  #21  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

always best to go through the suppliers as you'll save significantly.

on lowering costs...
if you're looking to save (what entrepreneur isn't?) consider MYA. i'm not affiliated with nor do i favor them in particular but their stuff is much cheaper.. and (i didn't know this until i had to deal with them personally) have 3-year replacement warranties an ALL parts.. something vendors neglect to tell us. parts are also easily available and replaceable, which you'll appreciate with the amount of traffic you're expecting. the different models would also make for an interesting ambiance.

for tobacco, try to deal directly with Starbuzz, Romman (hookah-shisha?), Tangiers, Al Fakher, etc.

been deployed to the middle east?
have you had the opportunity to visit the middle east and see prices for hookahs and tobacco? the difference is outrageous!

skip the middle-men...
don't go through the middle-men charging those prices. instead, be the middle-man charging them : ) your small business will enjoy perks from the suppliers you endorse.

GOOD LUCK!!! do share photos when you have them ~

Last edited by blacklit; December 23rd, 2009 at 03:20 PM.
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  #22  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Quote:
Originally Posted by blacklit View Post
always best to go through the suppliers as you'll save significantly.

on lowering costs...
if you're looking to save (what entrepreneur isn't?) consider MYA. i'm not affiliated with nor do i favor them in particular but their stuff is much cheaper.. and (i didn't know this until i had to deal with them personally) have 3-year replacement warranties an ALL parts.. something vendors neglect to tell us. parts are also easily available and replaceable, which you'll appreciate with the amount of traffic you're expecting. the different models would also make for an interesting ambiance.

for tobacco, try to deal directly with Starbuzz, Romman (hookah-shisha?), Tangiers, Al Fakher, etc.

been deployed to the middle east?
have you had the opportunity to visit the middle east and see prices for hookahs and tobacco? the difference is outrageous!

skip the middle-men...
don't go through the middle-men charging those prices. instead, be the middle-man charging them : ) your small business will enjoy perks from the suppliers you endorse.

GOOD LUCK!!! do share photos when you have them ~
We actually based our Hookah costs off of MYA hookahs at $120 a piece, but that of course is not considering wholesale prices. It would be much cheaper, and I will definitely have to look into dealing with them as well as Starbuzz, Thangiers and so on as well. Knowing about the replacement warranty with MYA is really something to consider, thanks so much for the information on that!

Being deployed here has it's plus' such as cheaper shisha and hookahs, however we do not have access to brands such as Starbuzz or Tangiers, at least not at the bazaar located here. So a plus being we can taste test a lot of brands/flavors for cheaper than back home but downside is the brands here are not directly reflected back home.

Of course eventually we will open up a shop once we have the main business settled and started but that is for down the road. Not trying to rush and spread money across two different things, just rather focus on one part (Hookah Lounge) then eventually upgrade/add on as the time comes! But again, thank you so much for the information. Let's us re-run ideas by each other and consider new options!

Last edited by Nakura18; December 23rd, 2009 at 04:51 PM.
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  #23  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

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Originally Posted by Nakura18 View Post
We actually based our Hookah costs off of MYA hookahs at $120 a piece, but that of course is not considering wholesale prices. It would be much cheaper, and I will definitely have to look into dealing with them as well as Starbuzz, Thangiers and so on as well. Knowing about the replacement warranty with MYA is really something to consider, thanks so much for the information on that!
must be some of their nicer hookahs. i see many taller hookahs but also a lot of QT's at lounges, esp tighter indoor venues set up with tables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nakura18 View Post
Being deployed here has it's plus' such as cheaper shisha and hookahs, however we do not have access to brands such as Starbuzz or Tangiers, at least not at the bazaar located here. So a plus being we can taste test a lot of brands/flavors for cheaper than back home but downside is the brands here are not directly reflected back home.
where in the Middle East are you at the moment? for reference, how much is 250g of Al Fakher.. 250g on average? i recall paying $1.50 for them in the emirates at one point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nakura18 View Post
Of course eventually we will open up a shop once we have the main business settled and started but that is for down the road. Not trying to rush and spread money across two different things, just rather focus on one part (Hookah Lounge) then eventually upgrade/add on as the time comes! But again, thank you so much for the information. Let's us re-run ideas by each other and consider new options!
got a lounge name yet?
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  #24  
Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Sounds like a good idea. I'm currently a part of a small circle of entrepreneurs who are researching the hookah-lounge business. We're far from being ready to launch and we're considering the set up in a very different area, serving a very different demographic. However, it seems wise to keep in mind that, depending where in Virginia you're looking, there are a lot of lounges there already. The vast majority of those are mediocre at best.

I would bet that most of those aren't turning much of a profit. I suspect that if you approach the endeavor looking to cut all the corners you can, you're going to end up with another mediocre lounge, instead of a great one, which it might be with a little extra TLC and capital.

Just about every time I visit a lounge in the VA area, I'm constantly noticing tiny little things that could be adjusted to better the customer's experience. But instead, they're little things that add up to me not wanting to return to that lounge. In my opinion, the hookah lounge is an excellent idea and a great market, but it needs a kind of renaissance to really be profitable.

So, all I'm suggesting is that perhaps looking for the lowest possible entry cost isn't the best idea. Raising capital and looking for private investors could potentially offer you the opportunity to be just that much better than rest of the guys out there giving you the chance to suck away their business.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:43 PM
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Bassem
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Default Re: Opening up a Lounge

Or of course, it may allow someone to 'partner in' with you, when that wouldn't necessarily be required. You take the lions share of the risk, for the opportunity to share the profits. I would beg someone to open another 'high end' hookah lounge next to ours. The profit from buying their goods when they close in six months is quite extraordinary.
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