The Oxford Hookah Lounge officially opened for business Friday, June 11.
Owners Tony Abbas and Alex Riahi originally planned to open late March, but it took longer than expect to acquire a building permit, according to Abbas.
“We just didn’t study enough,” Abbas said. “We needed to fix a few things on our building plans before we could get approval from the city.”
The pair received approval to start building the lounge by April, but the delayed opening did not slow business at all, Abbas said.
“On grand opening day, the place was packed,” Abbas said. “In order to get the word out, I made fliers the day before and had an employee hand them out around town. We also generated a lot of buzz on Facebook. Other than that, all of our other press came from word of mouth.”
Hookah is not all the lounge has to offer.
“One of our biggest hits is our green tea,” Abbas said. “It is one of our best selling items. It is hot green tea that is imported. We also add in sugar and mint leaves.”
According to Abbas, the best part is that the Oxford Hookah Lounge is open from 5 p.m to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
“Most of the bars close earlier than we do,” said Abbas. “Now students have a place to go if they aren’t ready to go home yet.”
Many students who are not in Oxford for the summer are excited to check out the new hookah bar.
“If the hookah bar is successful this summer, it will be even more successful come start of the school year,” said Miami University junior Brooke Perellis. “College students are definitely more likely to go to a hookah bar, especially one that is so conveniently located and in walking distance of most students’ homes.”
Abbas said they also have a few ideas they are planning for the future of their hookah bar.
“We just started having live bands play,” Abbas said. “I also want to get a live DJ to play on the weekends. In addition, I am trying to organize monthly belly dancer shows.”
The Oxford Hookah Lounge is definitely bringing a new culture to the people of Oxford, Abbas said.
“We are trying to build a name,” Abbas said. “We want to bring in a new culture and create a more positive image about hookah. Many people get the wrong idea and associate negative connotations with hookah.”
The Oxford Hookah Lounge’s goal is to create a positive, relaxing environment. It encourages people to socialize, Abbas said.
“The only thing we ask is to please not bring any alcohol in,” Abbas said. “It is not ok. There are plenty of bars to do that in. Would you take a beer into a coffee shop?”
Some students think forbidding alcohol in the lounge will not hurt business.
“The hookah bar has a huge advantage, it’s the only one in Oxford (or in the general region),” Perellis said. “It has no competitors; the product is unique and it is in an ideal placement (uptown). It will most likely promote itself and become very successful.”