Hookah lounge opening in former Liz Reed Music Hall

Two Atlanta businessmen are opening a hookah lounge in the former Elizabeth Reed Music Hall at 557 Cherry St. in Macon.

Ted Bahhur said he and business partner Bas Ibriham will open Cherry Street Hookah next week.

“We may have a soft opening early in the week, but our target date is Friday,” Bahhur said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Bahhur, former head football coach at Clark Atlanta University, said he and Ibriham are also the owners of House of Hookah, 398 14th St., in Atlanta.

“When we would come to Macon (for football), they never had anything like this,” he said.

Bahhur said he’s always enjoyed coming to Macon, but most of the entertainment centered around “loud music and alcohol.”

Patrons will not be able to smoke cigarettes or cigars in Cherry Street Hookah, and the business will not sell alcohol.

“We will not have loud music. During the day, I think students will come to study,” Bahhur said. “We’ll serve sodas. The atmosphere is going to be fun.”

Hookahs gaining popularity in Macon

You couldn’t find a hookah spot in Macon about a year ago. Now there are two places, and when Cherry Street Hookah opens, there will be three places.

Red Light Tobacco, which opened at 362 Second St. about a year ago, sells hookahs.

Patrons can also smoke a hookah pipe at Roasted Cafe & Lounge, 442 Second St.

Native to India, Pakistan and the Middle East, a hookah is a single or multi-stemmed water pipe used for smoking flavored tobacco.

The tobacco is typically flavored with various fruits.

Hookahs have certainly gained popularity in many areas in the U.S. and apparently it’s catching on.

Benjamin Starling, who works at Red Light Tobacco, said it can barely keep them in stock, and he thinks he knows why it’s catching on here. “Macon is getting a little more culture to it,” he said. “Hookahs have been around, and people haven’t been exposed.

“In other countries people bond over it like we do drinking here,” said Starling, who smoked hookah for the first time five months ago.

“It’s relaxing. Not too much nicotine,” Starling said. “It’s calming, and it tastes awesome.”

To contact Business Editor Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.