Planning commission OK’s hookah lounge

Planning commission OK’s hookah lounge
Alexandria City Hall. (file photo)

By Julia Brouillette

Old Town offers an array of dining options and chic boutiques, but until now, it has lacked one of the trendiest hangouts: a hookah lounge.

The city planning commission overwhelmingly supported a plan to reopen the former Sultan Kabob at 1024 Cameron St. as a Middle Eastern restaurant — complete with a hookah bar and lounge on the second floor.

Since 1990, the building has been home to several delicatessen-style restaurants and markets. After the closing of its most recent tenant, Sultan Kabob in 2007, the space has remained empty.

The new restaurant will host typical seating arrangements on the first floor, while the second floor — not used by the previous establishment — will feature ambient background music and hookah pipes with a lounge atmosphere.

The eatery will seat approximately 80 people, and the business expects to serve between 75 to 100 customers daily.

While planning commissioners greeted the proposal warmly, neighbors worried that the restaurant and hookah bar would prove too noisy for nearby residents. In response, company representatives agreed to close at midnight on the weekends, rather than 1 a.m.

The restaurant will offer dine-in, carryout and bar service. Similarly to Sultan Kabob, the new restaurant will serve traditional Middle Eastern meals, with an emphasis on kabobs.

Although restricted to the premises, beer, wine and mixed drinks will be available at the new establishment. The company predicts that the business will consist of 70-percent food sales and 30-percent alcohol sales.