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Plans for Two West Downtown Dearborn Hookah Lounges Approved

Proprietors for both businesses came before the City Plan Commission on Monday.

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.

whachadune July 11, 2012 at 10:57 AM
Why doesn't Newman pay attention to his own falling down properties instead of every body else's? He lost almost every major tenent in his strip mall. Doesn't he get that busy downtown area is good for all businesses?
AC July 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Narjileh, or 'hookah' as it is commonly called is a very dangerous and hopefully passing fad. I thought we had anti-smoking laws in Michigan? Just another case of profits before people.
becki kain July 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Newman's such a whiner.
Peder Blohm July 11, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Dont blame Newman.! He lost tenents when Allen Park was built.. And is getting new tenants in the strip mall.The City of Dearborn’s Planning Commission surprises me more and more, doing everything they can to stop Goodwill from open a store in West Dearborn, but a Hookah smoking place is OK..!! Close to a school….
Suheir young July 11, 2012 at 01:53 PM
It is time a new job is a blessing in Michigan, better than hurting some seniors for a few dollars.
Concerned Citizen July 11, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I am blaming Newman. He is sitting on his properties rather than lowering his rents to adjust to the new market reality. Ford has eliminated entire buildings worth of staff over the last 15 years and have even torn down buildings (Southfield/Rotunda). Therefore, there are fewer people here to support the local businesses during the daytime. Combine that with Fairlane Green, he's going to have to realize that the late 90s are never coming back and that he may have to accept 30-40% less than he used to receive.
Peder Blohm July 11, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Do you know his lease rate? Or is it your perception? Look at his propertys on Newman. almost filled up, Dearborn Music moving in, Goodwill building the new store, several interested in the space empty after Cedar Coney. Doesn't this tell you something?
Concerned Citizen July 11, 2012 at 03:50 PM
It means that my comment is about a year stale. I am quite happy about the new leases. Combine Goodwill with Dearborn Music and we have the makings of a potential hipster zone. Switch Newman with Fahkoury then in the above and we're set.
Peder Blohm July 11, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Amen...!!
Judy Modelski July 11, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I have a problem with smoke--the thought of a bunch of people sitting in "outdoor seating" smoking away on Michigan Avenue--not a good image for Dearborn!
Mole July 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
It's a legal business. Perhaps it's better to have vacant storefronts in West Dearborn. Oh wait... there are plenty of those already.
Mole July 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM
With the smoking ban, people already smoke on Michigan Ave., outside the bars and restaurants. I thought that's what people wanted. And Dearborn is already full of hookah places and an Arab population that has smoked them, long before it was a fad. Nothing new here.
Rich July 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I absolutely agree with the 'switch' of the 2 names.
Rich July 11, 2012 at 07:33 PM
True, nothing new (in a way) BUT this woud be a very concentrated area of hookahs AND my understanding of them is that each one is about the equivalent a whole pack of cigarettes.
cheryl July 12, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I don't have any issue with hookah lounges, as long as the food part is regulated. What I do have an issue with are places like LaPita, which allows the hookah smoking on the patio where they serve food and the dozens of other places around town that allow smoking in buildings where they also have a kitchen. Dearborn does a horrid job of regulating this. And every single time I ask someone from the Michigan Anti-smoking coalition or the Smoke Free Michigan people what they are doing about it, crickets. No one wants to make the hookah smokers and the hookah business owners follow the rules.
Dominic Raona July 12, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Why do you think that is? Why is the Michigan Anti-Smoking Coalition and Smoke Free Michigan staying silent on this issue. I will tell you why! There is a HUGE elephant in the room!!! No one wants to take on the cultures of our Mid-eastern brethren!!

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