HOOKAH BAR AS BUSINESS: how to choose a proper hookah

In the series of materials called “Hookah bar as business” I am going to consider a number of the most popular questions that you will have to deal with while opening this undoubtedly profitable direction of the Ho.Re.Ca. business.

In order to increase the material’s expertise I am going to write this column together with my partners in this direction that I have been cooperating with for 7 years – The “iHookah” Company that provides not only consulting, training and outsource services, but also is a manufacturer of their own hookah models. I invariably use them in my establishments.

Personally I am a chain-smoker and I have been smoking hookahs daily for 8 years. It’s noteworthy that I have never smoked and don’t smoke cigarettes, but hookah smoke dips me into some special nirvana and relaxation. So I am an expert in hookah smoke as well as in organizing hookah business, and will gladly share my experience with you.

So, how to choose a proper hookah? What are the nuances of their construction? What manufacturer is better? We are going to get answers to these and some other questions as well as to study.

When you come to the question of buying hookahs, you are going to face a dilemma: to buy so called “workhorses” or some kind of an exclusive? Of course, if you have a democratic establishment for students, the second alternative is out of the question. In this case “vandal resistance” and accessibility go first. Among the available manufacturers of this kind we can single out the following ones: KhalilMamoon, SherifFawzy, Garden.

However, if you are opening a hookah bar, then in my opinion, your hookahs have to be original and remarkable, but at the same time easy to use and provide thick, pleasant and cool smoke.

These criteria while approaching this question were used in 2009 by my hookah partners – The iHookah Company. At that time they created their first hookah model – “ONE” that was successfully used during my season in “White” Club in Yevpatoria, and then we continued our constant cooperation in “Seven” Night club and later in “Opera” where you can smoke these hookahs nowadays.

HOOKAH DESIGN

The hookah appearance is quite impressive. This is a high hookah of white colour having a high metal stem and a hand-made glass vase. Each vase is an exclusive product, the thickness of glass may vary from model to model, but it is always of a high quality. It is noteworthy that all hookah details with the exception of bowls and hoses were developed by those guys. Vases are frosted with the help of sandblasting, which looks great from designer’s point of view and improves the cohesion rate even with a wet hand. Recently they modified vases and started to install led lighting working on accumulators to the bottom. It looks spectacular in the night club.

The company has developed personal kalouds for the loyal Guests of “OPERA” night club and restaurant, on which they write Guests’ personal information. Not only it prepossesses and makes a Guest loyal, but also looks original in design and is a great occasion to “instagram” the hookah.

HOOKAH STEM

We have mentioned that iHookah stems are quite high (86 cm). This is not without purpose. The length of a stem defines how pleasant and cool smoke will be. Hookah stem has two main functions: filtration and cooling. It is this component that influences how the process of smoking will go: either you will get a great pleasure from breathing in some aromatic smoke, or a wrongly selected stem will spoil the whole thing because of bad taste rendering. The optimal stem length for serving Guests is supposed to be 50-100cm. It all depends on your service standard: shorter hookahs are put on tables (this is convenient for big tables and companies), and long ones are put on the floor in the smoking area.

Moreover, a stem is a decorative element and provides hookahs with some esthetic look. The main thing while choosing a stem is the material it is made of, its length and inner diameter. These factors will influence the durability as well as the quality of inhaled smoke.

A stem consists of a tube that smoke goes through, a hose connector and a tray. If you use a short stem, smoke won’t have enough time to cool while smoking. You are going to have a tickle in your throat and an unpleasant aftertaste will appear. If stem length is longer than it is required, and its diameter is standard, a hookah will be difficult to smoke and take much effort in order to inhale, it will bring no pleasure as well.

Various metals are used for stem manufacturing. Stainless steel is the most durable, but has a low rate of heat conduction, that means that smoke won’t have a possibility to give its heat on the way to a vase and won’t be properly cooled. Ferrous metals are susceptible to corrosion and have a low rate of heat conduction as well. Aluminium possesses good heat conduction, but is susceptible to corrosion more often. Copper and brass are noted for high heat conduction, so smoke is cooled quickly, brass is more resistant to corrosion, which make this material more preferable than others.

The diameter of all joints must be wide enough, because it influences the easiness of smoking. Stem inner diameter is supposed to be not less than 15 mm. A stem, valve, connector and a hose are the main junctions and they are supposed to have an optimal diameter. The more diameter is, the better draw will be and less effort will be needed while inhaling smoke.

For instance, while analyzing the quality of smoking of a KhalilMamoon hookah we noted that the draw was quite poor. After the examination it turned out that the cross section of the stem was only 12 mm. That seems to be a trifle, but it influences the quality.

The draw is the notion that is quite individual. Some people prefer the classic draw (hookahs produced in Syria and Egypt), others prefer the light one (such models are mostly manufactured in Central and Eastern Europe). “iHookah” products have an optimal draw which is acceptable for the commercial use, as it will be suitable for most people.

VASE

While choosing a vase it is very important to take into account the thickness of glass and its shape. The narrow bottom diameter is bad for hookah’s stability. That’s why it’s better to choose vases with wide bottoms and a low centre of gravity. Glass can be from 2-3 mm to 13-15 mm thick. For our hookahs we produce vases with 10-13 mm thick glass and with bottom diameter of 20 cm. As it has been mentioned before, vases are frosted with the help of sandblasting with transparent company logos left on them.

HOOKAH HOSE

Some time ago hookah hoses were made of leather-cloth, cellophane and a metal spring which became oxidized after a short period of use, with a hose becoming unsuitable as a result. Nowadays hookah hoses are made of foodstuff silicone which can be regularly washed. Its inner diameter has to be not less than 15mm. Hose length depends on personal preferences, but to make it easy to use for Guests sitting at a big table it must be not shorter than 180 cm including a chibouk.

STEM TO VASE CONNECTION

This is one more important criterion in hookah construction that affects its usability by a hookah attendant. There are three type of connection:

  • composite;
  • screwed;
  • click system.

Composite type is the most classical and wide spread method where only a silicone gasket is used. One of its advantages is the speed of the stem to vase connection. In this case it is advisable to pick up a hookah holding its stem as it might fall off. Quite often it is done by Guests (bringing or moving a hookah) and some bad things happen.

Screwed connection of a stem with a vase means that a hookah stem is screwed into a vase. This kind of connection allows moving a hookah holding its stem. The process of connecting the two parts takes a bit more time compared to the composite one. Some problems with putting ice inside a vase may occur because of the narrower diameter.

The click system is similar to the screwed connection, but a stem and a vase are connected more quickly. In other words, a stem is clicked into a vase in a special connection place.

RELEASE VALVE

One more hookah detail, or sooner a stem detail, is a release valve. First of all we need to understand its purpose. A release valve is used for blowing a hookah: blowing into it you get rid of the smoke having gathered inside the vase. Its inner diameter and openings size affects the easiness of blowing (its capacity). It is also used if while smoking you can feel some bitter taste or there is some unpleasant aftertaste because of smoke standstill.

In other words, a ball valve removes smoke from a vase. A proper valve is supposed to let smoke out easily, but not to let air in from the outside into a hookah.

COOLING CHIBOUK (holder)

A cooling chibouk consists of a chibouk and special filler which can contain either usual water or special gel which is frozen in a deep-freezer beforehand.

Company “iHookah” added to “OPERA” karaoke restaurant service a kind of a feature when translucent chibouks with coolers are filled with sliced fruit: orange, lemon, lime. It provides some visual freshness and designer effect.

This cooling system provides more pleasant smoking, especially in summer time. However it should be noted that there are people who prefer this system as well as people for whom the usual temperature is more suitable as a cooler can dull the taste of the inhaled smoke.

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