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How Much Does It Cost To Open a Hookah Bar?

Everyone who tries hookah seems to fall in love with it. It is a social activity that is relaxing, enjoyable, and fun for everyone, not to mention it tastes great.

It sounds like having a place where people can get together and enjoy hookah, coffee, and food, could be a really good idea for a business. Well, guess what — it already is a thriving type of business, and one that you might want to get into as a hookah enthusiast and entrepreneur.

Hookah lounges or hookah bars are popping up across the United States rapidly, as it grows in popularity amongst millennials and Gen-Z. 

If you love hookah and want to bring a hookah lounge to your area, you may be wondering how much it actually costs to get a hookah lounge up and running. Here is what you need to know when getting started.

What Are the Costs Involved in Starting a Hookah Bar Business?

Before we can nail down the exact cost of opening a hookah bar, we should discuss what we are including in the cost. We are going to discuss only the things that are absolutely necessary for the business, so these are conservative estimates. 

The costs that we will consider as part of the cost are: 

  • Space and Remodeling
  • Equipment
  • Hookah Pipes and Supplies
  • Operational costs
  • Licensing

All together these things add up, and depending on where you live, the price can vary quite a bit. So we are going to break down each item and what its projected costs are for you.

Space and Remodeling

The first and largest expense that you are faced with when starting your own hookah business is your rent costs and remodeling expenses.

You have to have a physical space to do business, so try and secure a space that is the proper size for what you want to do, and is also built to do what you want. For instance, if you plan to sell food, look to rent a space with a kitchen. 

Rent will average between three to five thousand dollars per month depending on the size and location of your commercial space. To have one year’s rent onhand at start up, you should save at least $35,000. 

Remodeling is also going to be necessary to spruce up your place and give it a strong ambience. A major aspect of what hookah lounges sell is the ambience for a relaxing experience. This will cost you as well, likely somewhere in the realm of $15,000 to $25,000 depending on how deep you get into remodeling. 

So, right off the bat we are looking at about $60k for space and remodeling.

Licenses

In order to operate a business in the United States, you need permits and licenses — depending on the business, you may need more than one. 

For your hookah lounge, you will need a business license, food service license, food handler’s permit, live entertainment license, and an indoor smoking license, if required in your state. 

We did not include alcohol permits in our list since traditional hookah lounges don’t serve alcohol, however if you wish to serve alcohol that would add another cost.

All in all, you are likely to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 for license and permits depending on your state, and even more if you are getting alcohol permits as well. 

Equipment

Next, you’re going to need some general business equipment to run your hookah bar. This includes things like bar tops and tables, furniture, kitchen equipment, POS systems, computers, cash register, signs, dish washing equipment, security system, website maintenance, utility setups, and your payroll and other business management software. 

These can vary depending on the quality and age of the products you purchase, but you should expect to spend around $20,000 to $30,000 for all of this equipment.

Operating Costs

Now we are ready to factor in the operating costs of your hookah lounge. Your operating costs are any sorts of recurring costs that your business is going to pay in order to maintain itself. 

This includes things like:

  • Consulting costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Supplies
  • Inventory
  • Advertising and marketing 
  • Payroll
  • Utility Bills

Altogether, these costs are going to come about each and every month. It is smart to have at least $50k at startup or more for these specific expenses.

Hookah Pipes and Equipment

Next, you are going to need to furnish your bar with hookah pipes — don’t forget the smaller accessories you’ll need, too, like tongs, foil, and tips. This is, surprisingly, one of the less expensive costs of starting your hookah lounge.

Altogether, a few high-quality and durable pipes plus all the accessories and shisha to get started will cost you about $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the style and quality. 

This is where wholesale hookah pricing can really save you a pretty penny.

What’s My Total? 

So, rounding up all of your costs…

  • Space and Remodeling: $60k
  • Licensing: $2-5k
  • Equipment: $30k
  • Operating Costs: $50k
  • Hookah Pipes and Equipment: $3-5k

…for a grand total of at least $140k to start your own hookah business

This price varies greatly depending on where you live, where you want to do business, how large you want your hookah lounge to be as well as how much you spend on equipment and supplies, which can vary depending on what niche you are looking to target.

So there you have it — if your goal is to start a hookah business, you are going to need at least $140k to get things going.

Is There Another Way?

If you read through that list and are starting to think that it seems pretty long and like it would be a lot of tedious work to start a hookah business, then you may be wondering if there is another way to get involved in the hookah lounge business without having to deal with these startup costs?

Well, there is another way, but it is much more expensive. What you could do is buy a hookah business that has already been established. These will end up costing you more than starting one up yourself, but then you are handed the equipment and location, as well as some clientele already.

Depending on where you live, the cost of purchasing a hookah business varies a lot. 

Purchasing a hookah lounge in a bustling big city might cost one million dollars, whereas buying one in a small Midwestern town might only cost $100-200k. 

If you want to be a hookah business owner but hate the idea of starting one up, then be prepared to pay a lofty sum for your business.

Hookah Lounge Startup Costs: The Takeaways 

So, now you know what it is going to cost you to start a hookah business.

We figured out all of the different costs associated with starting a hookah business: space and remodeling, licenses, equipment, operating costs, and hookah pipes and equipment.

Together, these things will vary in cost depending on where you live, how large your business is, and what kinds of equipment you purchase, but you could expect to pay about $140k USD or more to start your hookah business.

If you are thinking about starting your own hookah business and need a supplier for your hookah pipes, equipment, as well as top-shelf shisha, then you should give us a try.

MOB Hookah sells wholesale to businesses and we pride ourselves on taking care of our clients and providing the high-quality equipment that your customers are expecting from your lounge. 

As always, for more articles and guides, keep checking back here for everything you need to know, hookah owner and hookah enthusiast alike.


Sources

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Hookah Bar | CostHack.com

Estimated Cost of Opening a Hookah Bar Business in 2022 | Profitable Venture

Cost to Open a Hookah Bar - in 2022 | The Pricer

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