Ayman Anwar has often said he would like to see Hillsville offer more things and new ideas to bring people to town. Certainly, Hillsville has never had a business like Anwar is about to open on Main Street – the Hookah Hook-up.
Anwar, owner of Juliano’s Italian Grill, is adding to the Hillsville restaurant with an extension of the business, The Hookah Hook-up. Hookah lounges are establishments where customers share shisha (flavored tobacco) from communal hookahs at each table. Anwar says he wants to add to his business and offer something unique to Hillsville. The closest Hookah lounge is 35 miles away, he said. Juliano’s Hookah Hook-up will be opening soon next to Juliano’s Italian Grill in the old Cabo Mexican/Hardware Restaurant.
“We need new business and we need jobs for our people. I want people to come to Juliano’s Hookah Hookup and I want people to enjoy it. I want them to have a reason to come to Hillsville,” Anwar said. “I am not doing it for extra money. Maybe it is risky for me, but I think people want to come to a place where they can smoke, or a place with music and a DJ, a place to relax, so we are trying to make it happen.”
The inside of the Hookah Hook-up certainly has a mystic Mediterranean feel as thin red window panels illuminate the inside, while blacklights and beads will add to the atmosphere, Anwar said. Hookah Hook-up will have a different menu than Juliano’s, offering hot teas to go along with the flavored tobacco that patrons smoke from the hookahs. A bellydancer will also be providing entertainment.
“It is beautiful to be happy and listen to good music. It will also be a place for safety and family, meeting with your family, talking, chitchatting,” Anwar said. “And for maybe like $10, we will let them smoke from the hookah for a half hour or more.”
Anwar envisions The Hookah Hook-up as a place for relaxation, entertainment and good company. He said it will not be a place for trouble. That is why alcohol will not be sold there and there will be security and a minimum charge to discourage loiterers, he said.
“Hookahs have nothing to do with drugs or anything like that. It is entertainment inside and a place for people to hang around and chitchat. We are going to have WiFi, so you can have your laptop, your work, anything you want to do, and listen to some music and meet people, drink hot tea, anything like that,” he said. “We are not going to serve alcohol. It brings troublemakers. Those kinds of people, I don’t need.”
Patrons must be 18 years of age to visit Juliano’s Hookah Hook-up.
“I am not a smoker but my brother was a smoker and he took me with him. I would go for smoke flavor and I did smoke a little bit. I liked the feeling and the atmosphere,” Anwar said. “We will have TVs, music and relaxation. This is a place for people who need to be away from trouble. I came here to add something to the town, not to make trouble.”
Juliano’s Hookah Hook-up will have the right to refuse anyone service, Anwar said, if it feels it can’t handle a customer, or if someone comes in just to smoke cigarettes and bother customers.
“This is our property. You don’t come inside just to smoke a cigarette and go bother people,” he said. “So there will be a minimum charge so we can filter people who just want to come in and hang around. I have a feeling this will be a part of Hillsville. I have a feeling people will come more for this than came to Juliano’s for the restaurant.”
Anwar is still contemplating hours, but he said the business will be open seven days a week and will most likely operate from 5 p.m. to 12 or 1 a.m. most nights.
“I think it is going to help people who drive through the town if they know Juliano’s is open to 1 a.m., they will come here. What else does Hillsville have open at 1 a.m.? If somebody is open, they will stay,” he said. “I think people are going to like it. And I am happy to hire more employees, too.”
A Halloween Costume Party is planned as well as special events for Christmas and other holidays. Flavored tobacco will be available with or without nicotine, he said.
“We will have smoke for the beginner that will not have nicotine - that is a must. The second one has nicotine, so we will have both. We will have 55 flavors of tobacco,” Anwar said. “And we will be able to have our own mixes where we can put three flavors together such as mint, coconut and raspberry. It will be fun. I love the place. We just want people to come. I think people will come and we are making it beautiful so they will want to come back.”