Frat parties, apartment pregames or trips to Cornerstone and Bentleys; those are the usual weekend options for many University of Maryland students. However, College Park nightlife does get dull at times and traveling into D.C. for the club scene can get expensive, so what’s another possibility?
How about Hookah?
For those of you who haven’t yet seen, Café Hookah, a Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean-style restaurant, made its grand opening in early February right off of Route 1 on Lehigh Road. The hookah lounge offers different kind of tobacco and non-tobacco flavors for the hookah as well as coffee and tea.
Customers can also order food from Krazi Kebob, the neighboring restaurant offering a fusion of Indian, Pakistani and Mexican cuisine, to eat in Cafe Hookah. Krazi Kebob’s owner is a cousin of the hookah lounge’s owner Abid Khan, and the two’s fathers have been friends for many years, Khan said.
Khan said one thing that sets the business apart is its late hours. While the bars close at 1:30 a.m or 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Café Hookah is open until 3 a.m. This factor may make the hookah lounge attractive to students looking for a late night out.
“[Café Hookah] is different because it’s an alternative to just drinking every night you go out,” Khan said.
Sophomore psychology major Ben Lichtbroun added that Café Hookah provides a nice addition to his weekend activities.
“It’s a relaxing place to go before or after I go out for the night,” Lichtbroun said. He has gone to Café Hookah several times this semester, and said it is a great place when he’s looking to just hang out with a few of his friends.
Khan added that this type of business will thrive in College Park because of its creativity and desire to showcase the College Park community’s artistic talents.
Khan has had students and local musicians perform, and he plans to host international and independent film nights in the future.
The ambience is another aspect of Café Hookah that makes it unique, Khan said. “Being there—whether you’re smoking hookah or not—with your friends, with the design and the overall feel of the place, it makes you feel like you are no where near Maryland and you’re in a very unique, different place,” Khan added.
Khan said that the hookah bars in Egypt were his sources of inspiration for Cafe Hookah’s environment and setting.
“Even though we have a very small venue, we use our imagination and there is an endless amount of things we can do with [Café Hookah],” Khan said. He added that he is constantly updating the design of the hookah lounge to keep its appearance looking its best.
Lichtbroun added that the young, friendly staff, “who were ready to serve at all times,” made his experience enjoyable.
“At one point we actually had three of the waitresses smoking hookah with us,” he said.
Although hookah-serving restaurants Prince Café and Mosaic Café are less than 10 minutes away, Khan believes the similarities end at the hookah.
He said the thorough way he and his employees clean the hookahs set Café Hookah apart and keep customers happy because they can really taste the flavors and know they can trust the business’ products.
While hookah might not be appealing to everyone, it provides a different atmosphere from the typical College Park nightlife.
“It’s definitely a relaxing environment for you and your friends to just go and chill,” Lichtbroun said.