Hookah bar hopes to open in Edgebrook cigar shop
by BRIAN NADIG
A request for a special use from the Zoning Board of Appeals would allow for the establishment of a hookah bar inside a cigar shop at 6416 N. Lehigh Ave.
A representative of the Edgebrook Community Association said that the group only recently learned of the Elite Cigar Lounge and Hookah Bar proposal and will be soliciting feedback from the neighborhood.
The zoning board, which acts independently of the City Council, could hold a public hearing on the proposal this summer. Special uses are often required for types of businesses, including liquor stores and massage parlors, which typically generate community concerns.
About 8 years ago the zoning board approved a special use for a hookah lounge at 5001 N. Harlem Ave. despite the objections of then-41st Ward alderman Mary O’Connor.
Project attorney Paul Kolpak said that a cigar shop has previously operated on the Lehigh site, but a new owner is seeking to add a hookah bar. A sign in the window at the cigar shop in the fall of last year advertised "Hookah on the Patio" for $9.99 everyday.
The city’s zoning codes classifies cigar use and hookah use differently, as a special use is not required for a cigar lounge even though they are both forms of smoking, Kolpak said.
Hookah involves the use of a tube that is connected to a bowl of water or other liquid through which flavored tobacco smoke is drawn and cooled.