Proposed Belmont Ave Hookah Bar ‘On Hold’

By Mike Fourcher | Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Owners of the proposed Shisha Cafe hookah and coffee lounge are requesting a special use permit to open at 1351 W. Belmont Ave., the former Paper Boy store. Credit: Mike Fourcher

A proposed hookah bar at 1351 W. Belmont Ave. is in limbo as the two partners consider community support for their business and work to renegotiate a lease for the space. The proposed smoker’s haven came to prominence as the partners confronted a buzz saw of opposition at a community meeting last September.

“We put everything on hold after we had the meeting with the neighborhood group. It’s a side project for both of us,” said Nihad Avdic, who has partnered with long-time friend Ali Eli on the project. Avdic is the general manager of a South Side trucking firm while Eli is finishing business school.

The contingent lease on the Belmont space, the former Paper Boy store next to Shuba’s Tavern, is set to expire soon, so Avdic and Ali are working to renew the lease with the leasing agent. They must have a signed lease in order to request a special use permit, which has been required in Chicago for new smoking lounges since the 2008 smoking ban was put into effect.

In addition, the city requires locations for new smoking lounges to be free standing buildings, says Avdic. “We did a lot of research. We looked at a lot of areas. These freestanding buildings are hard to come by. We were happy when we found the place,” he said.

“Hopefully in a few weeks we can get the lease renegotiated again and move forward. We need to talk to Alderman [Scott Waguespack (32nd)] to hear his thoughts. We’ve talked to his staff but not him,” said Advic.

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  • Frank Grimes

    For the love of god, that location seems fine, and should be okayed. I’m hopeful in the end that Ald. Waguespack will remember the fact that most of those who probably spoke out in opposition to this hookah bar are probably the same people who will never go there, anyway. And that’s a perfect place too, next to a well established bar and music venue.

    Approve their application for a hookah lounge, Ald. Waguespack!

  • http://twitter.com/healthinsshoppe health ins shoppe

    How about the smoke shop on Belmont and Wolcott in Roscoe?  They sell K@prfsnlwannabe:disqus  and most likely bath salts, hookas, bongs, glass pipes.  You can also find toilet paper, powerade, takis, lotto, glass plus, comet and discount cigarettes which are highly advertised on the windows…3 storefronts down from a CPS school.  

    Tobacco is one thing, but selling products (synthetic marijuana and cocaine) that kill children and send them to the ER is another subject, especially 3 stores from a school

  • http://twitter.com/carfreechicago Carfree Chicago

    Nihad and Ali — Don’t be discouraged by our neighbors. I’d love to have you on my street.

    health ins shoppe — What does a head shop on Belmont and Wolcott have to do with this? I’m not sure you know what a hookah bar is.

    • Anonymous

      I think health ins shoppe was saying that a hookah place that sells tobacco is nothing to worry about compared to a head shop that sells synth marijuana and coke. That’s where our concerns should lie.

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