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Meet the Owner: Joe Salim of 718 Hookah Lounge

Austin Street's newest sports bar and hookah lounge.

Opened earlier this summer, 718 Hookah Lounge Bar and Grill is one of just a handful of hookah bars in Forest Hills. 

While many Queens residents think of the hookah lounge as an Astoria staple, owner Joe Salim has worked to tailor his lounge and restaurant to the unique clientelle in Forest Hills.

We spoke with him about opening his lounge and how he's hoping to grow his business in Forest Hills.

Forest Hills Patch: Tell us a little bit about 718 Hookah Lounge.

Joe Salim: We live in this neighborhood, I've been living here since 1994, what we have here is something new. The area hasn't had, on Austin Street, Middle-Eastern food, and at the same time, we're a hookah bar.

It's been good so far, it's up and coming, in the summertime it's a little slow but it's starting to pick up.

Patch: What's your business philosophy so far?

Joe Salim: Customer satisfaction is always number one, at the top of our list. We want customers to come in here, have a good time, be safe, and leave happy. We do a lot of carry out, a lot of deliveries, and we have a lot of people who sit down and eat as well.

People love the place because it's different. They love the food that no one else has on Austin Street.

Patch: The lounge has its share of sports-bar elements, why add that in?

Joe Salim: People are into sports, and they want to watch the game, so that's why we put in the six large screen TV's. If we on't have TV's, customers will go someplace else.

Patch: Talk a little bit about your cuisine.

Joe Salim: The cuisine is all Lebanase, Middle-Eastern. Falafel is a very popular dish, everybody knows it, and that sells a lot. We have shawarma, beef and chicken and people love that as well. Personally, I love the falafel sandwich, we make our food fresh here, nothing is frozen, it's all from scratch. 

Patch: What's been the biggest challenge so far?

Joe Salim: One of the challenges is being able to hang in there while the business gets noticed and gets going. When you open up a new business, you've got to be able to hang in there, work hard, and it will come by itself but you've got to put in that good effort.

Any business takes time to grow, being patient is one of the challenges. You've got to be optimistic all the time. 

Thanks for talking with us!

This interview has been edited for duration and clarity. 

Rebecca Poole October 20, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Baba Ganoush recipe?
Sukit Hookah October 21, 2012 at 02:30 AM
It's nice to see such an open and positive approach to a hookah bar. Lately there's been a lot of press about potential harm of hookah smoking and it's almost always biased or misinterpreted studies that are being cited. I'm happy not be reading another reactionary article meant to incite hysteria. If you're curious about hookah facts you can visit our blog, we'll be adding to it regularly as we examine news stories and published research. http://blog.sukithookahs.com
Eddie Zimmerman October 21, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Wafa's is much better.
Merry Morales October 26, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I like this spot new and different for Austin st Best of luck to the owners
American Hookah Bars November 08, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The service is by far the best hookah service I have ever experienced. The waiter was extremely attentive, personable, and accommodating qualities that I find in an excellent server. The decor was an intimate setting. The music was top 40 and the ventilation was great. Looking back at my encounter it was a joyous one. I had an awesome time and the vibe was passionately heated.


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