Valpo Hookah bar smokes out business; eyes expansion
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 29, 2012 4:30PM
Updated: May 29, 2012 10:00PM
VALPARAISO — The increasing popularity of hookah bars has arrived in the city.
Business has been so good for The Hookah Lounge at its current 65 Valparaiso St. location, it plans to move to a place twice as big by summer’s end.
Owner Freddie Farid Aridah appeared before the Valparaiso Site Review Committee Tuesday with rough plans for moving to 902 Calumet Ave., which now also houses a hairdresser and a bridal boutique.
“We are planning to expand. The capacity of this place (56 Valparaiso) is 50 people,” Aridah said. The new place would have room for 110.
Currently he has people come from as far as Chicago because of specials on beer and the cozy atmosphere.
He said the business would continue the same way, just move to a bigger place.
However, city staff said the increased size would require him to have a two bathrooms, a back door installed and possibly a sink for the kitchen.
Staff members also aren’t sure what state government would say about his needing kitchen ventilation.
Aridah said the current lounge doesn’t require separate ventilation, and the food they serve is microwaved hotdogs and nachos because state law requires some food when you serve beer.
He said he’d hoped to open the new lounge in a month, but with restrictions the city wants, it probably would take longer.
Also at the Site Review meeting, Troy Clark, owner of 9 Lincolnway, came to talk about plans for his building.
That includes finishing façade renovation on the front, where H2O Nails has its entrance, and installing 8-foot and 20-foot pools in the upper levels’ loft.
Clark, a designer who’s lived in downtown Valparaiso for about 12 years, plans to move into his dream loft on the second and third floors when it’s finished.
He’d already done some façade work on the building’s front, which the city reimburses half of up to $25,000.
However, the city didn’t have the whole $25,000 budgeted last year, so Clark is looking at painters and paints to finish the job this year.