For the older and uninitiated set, hookah bars have a reputation for being dingy, smoke-filled dens of iniquity, packed with inebriated 20-somethings hell bent on having a good time.
But thanks to a couple of skilled professionals, who together have built and designed more than a dozen such establishments in Chicago, the image of the hookah lounge might be changing.
Mr. Hookah Lounge, an upscale establishment located a stone’s throw from the Clearwater downtown district, is clean, inviting and family-friendly; in other words, it’s everything most hookah lounges aren’t.
“I visited most of the hookah lounges in the Tampa Bay area, and they are giving hookah lounges a bad name,” co-owner David Spears says.
“This is the type of hookah lounge you can bring your family to.”
Filled with comfortable furniture and sporting a funky, cool vibe, Mr. Hookah more resembles a trendy coffee bar than a smoking lounge.
In fact, since the place does not serve alcohol, coffee, espresso and fruit drinks are the main items on the menu, which also includes pastries, cakes and non-alcoholic beer.
There is no time limit for customers to smoke, as is the case with similar lounges, and the prices — $10 for regular size, $15 for extra large — are lower than competitors’ as well, according to Spears.
Although Spears doesn’t want to give the impression that smoking from the water-filled, nicotine-free pipes is a healthy activity, he does want people who enjoy hookah smoking to be able to sit back, relax and enjoy themselves instead of fearing what type of clientele is going to come through the door.
“Other (hookah lounges) around here have old furniture, they’re dark, and you get the feeling you’re doing something illegal in there,” he says. “Here you have open space, comfortable furniture and relaxing music.
“This is a completely different experience for hookah.”
Address: 801 Cleveland St., #A
Hours: from 6 p.m. til close daily