AMSTERDAM - Tables filled quickly Friday at Aladdin's Restaurant & Hookah Lounge, the area's first hookah lounge and Mediterranean cuisine eatery duo.
The restaurant and lounge, located at 4740 Route 30 opened earlier this month and is operated by business partners Kousai Alikhan and Zouhir Lian.
"We're from Syria where you have hookah with restaurants all over," Alikhan said. "So my partner, who is from New York City, he says they're all over there, and he said, 'Why don't we open one here?'"
The owners of Aladdin’s, Kousai Alikhan, left, and Zouhir Lian, pose for a photo in the restaurant Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Amanda May Metzger)
Alikhan said they found the perfect location to rent, which has two open floors with seating on each level. The interior with dim lighting and wooden walls gives an earthy feel. Patrons can pay to use a hookah at the lounge, and each get their own mouthpiece that's opened on the spot.
A variety of flavors are available such as mint, lemon, watermelon, double apple and more.
"Basically you would pay for the hookah, and we prepare it for you, so you smoke it until it burns out in about 45 minutes to one hour," Alikhan said.
For months the partners have been working on paperwork to get everything in order to open, such as a special license and insurance for the business.
He said the hookahs in the restaurant are tobacco free. There is a retail portion of the business with hookahs, tobacco and other products for sale.
Patrons don't have to be 18 to be in the restaurant, but they must be 18 to smoke a hookah.
The menu features a number of reasonably priced items such as falafel, burak, hummus, baba ganouj and several other choices.
There are also chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and other items for those who aren't looking to order Mediterranean food.
Sweets include kanafa and baklawa as well as cheesecake and chocolate cake.
Alikhan said the restaurant is working on a license to serve alcohol, but in the meantime there's soda, water, Arabic coffee and other beverages on the menu.
Occasionally the restaurant will have belly dancing entertainment as well.
"Most of the people that we've got so far since it's been open say they really love the food and atmosphere and say they're definitely going to come back," Alikhan said.
For more information, visit www.aladdinshookahlounge.com or search for the business on Facebook.