Lounge open for hookah, cigars

Michelle Barnum, is the co-owner with her husband, Nathan, of the Smoke Shack Hookah Lounge, 200 W. Grand Ave. The lounge opened March 1 and will have its grand opening Friday.

Code 69 and Blue Mist have been the most popular, but the shisha that goes into Michelle Barnum’s hookah is Safari Melon Dew. When she opens that container of Starbuzz shisha, the smell of honeydew melon in the sugar-cured tobacco makes a beeline for nearby olfactory nerves.

For those who like a lot of flavor in their tobacco and like to smoke it on a comfy couch in the company of like-minded souls, Barnum and her husband, Nathan, recently turned the 4,000-square-foot space on the southwest corner of Grand Central Station into The Smoke Shack Hookah Lounge.

The lounge at 200 W. Grand Ave., Unit 12, opened March 1 and will host its grand opening Friday.

It has 50 running hookahs and 44 flavors of shisha. Cigars are welcome in the lounge. Cigarettes are not, nor is marijuana, and Barnum said a lot of people come in and ask if it’s a marijuana dispensary. It is not.

Patrons must be at least 18, and if you don’t have identification to prove it, walk back out the door.

“You have to have an ID,” she said, adding most of the time there will be a doorman to check.

The lounge’s hours are 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily. The early-morning stretch, Barnum said, allows people to gather after the bars have closed.

Speaking of bars, there’s no alcohol served at the hookah lounge. Pepsi products will have to sate the thirsty. But for the person who wants to play a game of pool and smoke a cigar while doing it, Colorado law says you can’t do that in a bar. So, keep this in mind: There’s an eight-foot pool table at the hookah lounge.

There’s also a foosball table, a poker table, a jukebox and a 50-inch-screen television.

For anyone who wants to fill their lungs with something other than smoke, the lounge has an oxygen bar with 16 different flavors.

While the place is filled with smokers, they are not veiled in a smoky haze. That, Barnum said, is because The Smoke Shack Hookah Lounge has a state-of-the-art HVAC unit that recirculates the entire premises with fresh air every 20 minutes.

One evening the lounge had 60 people, “and you could barely see the smoke,” Barnum said.

Sixty people has been the high mark for customers at one time, and Wednesdays have been the busiest days through three weeks of business. As word filters into the community, Barnum expects more customers will waft in. That’s why she and her husband opened the business.

“I saw a demand for a lounge,” she said, adding, “They’re all over in Denver, Fort Collins.”

She rattled off more cities and states, suggesting if hookah lounges can succeed there, one can succeed here.

By the way, the Code 69 has a taste similar to sour Gummy Worms. The Blue Mist? It tastes like blueberries when you inhale, mint when you exhale.


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