West downtown Dearborn could soon be home to two new hookah lounges.
Special land use requests and site plans for both hopeful businesses were approved Monday by the Dearborn City Plan Commission unanimously.
Hookahs are water pipes used for the recreational smoking of flavored tobacco. Lounges that rent out the pipes for use have become more common throughout the U.S., including southeastern Michigan.
The first new such business in Dearborn, La Hookah, would be located in the West Village Commons at 22261 Michigan Ave., just south of . The petitioner, Najim Rizk, is the owner of both the existing cigar bar and planned hookah lounge.
Attorney George Steve explained to the Plan Commission that the business's ventilation system has already been properly upgraded, and that they have received their license from the State of Michigan.
La Hookah "would be consistent with the majority of businesses there, and their current hours," Steve said.
The lounge is slated to be open between noon and 2 a.m. daily, with indoor and outdoor seating.
The second lounge–the name of which was not given at the Plan Commission meeting–is planned to be located at 1006 S. Military, between Michigan Avenue and Newman Street.
Owner Michael Baydoun, whose construction business NSI Construction is based out of Ann Arbor, explained that he also plans to open a carryout restaurant of some sort next door to the lounge.
"This place is too big," he explained, "so we need to create some kind of catering business."
According to Michigan law, smoking lounges cannot serve food. Patrons, however, are able to bring in or have food delivered to them while smoking.
Beydoun's company was also involved with the construction of the cigar bar connected to upscale Ann Arbor restaurant the Chop House. But Beydoun said he is looking forward to bringing local clients to his new lounge in Dearborn.
"With this establishment right there ... we'll be spending money in the city of Dearborn," he said.
The only real objection came from Norman Newman, who owns the strip of properties just east of the second planned hookah lounge, as well as the parking lot in that area–one of the only free lots in west downtown Dearborn.
Newman warned that he would not allow hookah lounge customers to use the free parking available to patrons of the businesses leasing the properties he owns.
"I have no objections regarding the hookah," he said. "But there’s one thing they do not have, and that is parking. I cannot permit them to use my parking lot. I will do everything in my power to stop that."
The Plan Commission, as well as Beydoun, assured that would not be an issue because patrons could use the West Village parking decks.