I drove down a sketchy alley on a rainy Sunday night and had images of horror films flashing in my head. Walking into the Luxor Hookah Café, I was greeted by a woman sitting on a sofa with a laptop and hookah in front of her.
Her bubbly personality was contagious and I immediately felt at ease. My mood changed once I walked through the door, and a sense of calm washed over me.
The building was set up like a living room. Flat-screen televisions and Egyptian tapestries hung on the walls, while sofas, chairs and tables were placed throughout the room. Vending machines glowed with tasty treats and a pool table sat, waiting for someone to play. Dim lighting gave the environment a comfortable touch. I took a seat on a floral-patterned sofa with a black coffee table in front of it.
Our server introduced herself as Kelli Conkey, a sophomore Theater major at KU, and gave us a quick rundown of the flavors, prices and a little bit about the place while setting a menu in front of us.
Who knew flavored tobacco could be such a hard choice to make? Vanilla, mango, cherry, apple, watermelon, jasmine and other flavors adorned the page. Conkey also informed us that we could mix tobacco to make flavors like piña colada, Jolly Rancher and strawberry lemonade.
My guest and I chose mango and relaxed in the plush sofa for a comfortable evening. Conkey sat down with us as we inhaled the smooth flavor of mango smoke. She said the Luxor Hookah Café offers a specific kind of Egyptian tobacco with molasses so it mixes better and burns for a rich flavor. She also asserted that hookahs are not as dangerous as cigarettes or cigars because hookahs contain no tar and only .05 percent nicotine.
Conkey said people enjoy the hookah bar because it has a different atmosphere than a typical bar. “You can come and chill and you don’t have to be at a bar scene. This is a place to relax and have fun. And all types of people are welcome,” she said. “We have pool, games, a jukebox, awesome flat-screen televisions that you can watch movies on, or you can hook up your game console if you bring the attachments. We also have free Wi-Fi, so you can come do your homework. We really want to cater to our customers. That’s what it is all about.”
The Luxor Hookah Café will be having a grand opening, the date of which will soon be announced. It will host live bands – any interested bands can contact the Café via Facebook. Local artists can also contact the Café to display their artwork. “It is really a word-of-mouth place.
We want people to come and enjoy themselves. And it is not expensive,” Conkey said.
An hour-and-a-half later, we were still inhaling the sweet, rich flavor of mango. One hookah can last for an hour with two people, but time seems to pass quickly when you exhale your stresses with the smoke.
My friend, who was smoking from a hookah for the first time, said, “I really didn’t know what to expect. It is really calm and relaxing here.”
The Luxor Hookah Café is located on 168 Sanders Alley (behind China King) and opens at 6 p.m. daily. Monday through Wednesday the Café closes at midnight; Thursday through Sunday it closes at 2 a.m.
It will also be open all summer. Customers are required to be at least 18 years old to smoke a hookah and must have proof of identification with them. Customers 21 and older, with identification, can choose to bring their own beer.
I walked back out in the wind and rain, pulled my hood up, and knew I would be back again soon.
Your problems can melt away, great conversations can go on forever and you feel like a new person after you leave. The Luxor Hookah Café is definitely a place I recommend visiting.