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Hookah lounge setting up shop on Viking Avenue
POULSBO — Viking Avenue’s economic future has been foggy at best, but one business sees it as the perfect place to blow into town.
“It’s a hookah lounge and complete smoke shop,” said Pat Braga, owner of Up in Smoke, which will soon open its doors on Viking Avenue near Bovela Lane.
The opening date for the shop is not currently certain, but Braga hopes to be in business as early as Nov. 29. He is currently waiting for the state to process his business license and pass it on to the City of Poulsbo.
In the meantime, Braga is working hard to get Up in Smoke up and running on the south end of Viking Avenue.
The smoke shop will specialize in hookahs, a waterpipe with roots in Persia. Hookahs are commonly used in social gatherings to smoke flavored tobacco, called shisha.
“I have about 100 different flavors,” Braga said.
Three lounges will be available for use in the shop. Customers must purchase a membership to a private hookah club in order to get around state smoking laws.
“It will be around $15 a year,” Braga said. “It’s more of a technicality. If I didn’t have to have it, I wouldn’t do it.”
In addition to preparing the lounge, the store has already begun lining its shelves with a variety of hookahs, glass pipes, and smoking accessories for sale.
Since word of the business began spreading around Poulsbo, questions spread with it — particularly around whether marijuana would be a part of the business.
“It’s everything except weed,” Braga said.
“That’s what the city was concerned about,” he said. “They thought I was gonna have a dispensary, but I wasn’t.”
“It’s strictly a hookah lounge,” he added. “Seattle has hookah lounges and Tacoma has them too.”
Mayor Becky Erickson noted Seattle’s lounges as well. The mayor said that the city is “waiting and seeing” if the state business license is approved, and then may look at how other communities have handled the lounges.
Erickson referenced Seattle’s recent hookah crackdown. County health officials have shut down various lounges there, due to health concerns.
It won’t be Braga’s first lounge, however. He currently operates an Up in Smoke hookah lounge in Rock Springs, Wyo., where he is from. His family, from Poulsbo, persuaded him to open a shop locally.
“My daughter said, ‘Dad you got to do it,’ ” Braga said. “So she talked me into it.”