Heck Yeah, Hookah!

YSu Hookah
John Helms and Adham Aburahma hang out at the Hookah Cafe after school on Monday. Aburahma’s family runs the Hookah Cafe and enjoys interacting with the customers. Photo by Marissa McIntyre/The Jambar.

Youngstown State University student Dana Aburahma will spend her summer immersed in the culture of Palestine — a place where tank tops and shorts are considered a faux pas, even in the blazing heat.

Even though most of Aburahma’s family lives in Palestine, a piece of home isn’t too far away for Dana Aburahma and her brother, AdhamAburahma.

Dana and Adham Aburahma’s father, Nabil Aburahma, opened Youngstown’s first hookah bar on Belmont Avenue in order to bring some of their family’s culture to the Mahoning Valley.

The Hookah Cafe has been thriving for nine years now.

“Everyone that comes here we know, so it’s like one big happy family,” Dana Aburahma said.

Dana Aburahma said it’s traditional to smoke hookah socially in Palestine.

“People over there don’t really smoke or get drunk. It is very religious,” she said.

Dana Aburahma said the Hookah Cafe has a great atmosphere, adding that students often study there.

“It’s a quieter setting here, and the mood is very calming,” she said.

The dim lighting and soft music playing in the background sets the mood for customers.

Both Adham and Dana Aburahma spend a lot of their time at the hookah bar.

Adham Aburahma said he’s there every day from the time it opens at 6 p.m. until close at midnight, or 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“All of my friends come down here, and this is where I get all of my work done. It’s also a relaxing place to work,” he said.

On Monday, YSU seniors Katie McCullough and Alexa Kensinger visited the Hookah Cafe to relax while preparing for finals.

McCullough was a first-timer, but Kensinger has been a regular at the Hookah Cafe since high school.

“It was just cool to hang out and not have to be at home all the time. We obviously couldn’t go to bars,” Kensinger said. “Now, we can go to bars, and we keep coming back.”

McCullough said she enjoyed her first hookah experience and said she will return.

“It tastes good, and it’s nice and relaxing here,” she said.

Adham Aburahma said smoking hookah is a different experience than smoking more conventional tobacco products.

“It’s not dried tobacco like cigarette tobacco is. It’s moist and is soaked in flavored syrup for a few years,” AdhamAburahma said.

The cafe offers more than 100 flavors to pick from.

YSU junior Mike Weaver befriended the Aburahmas while working seasonally at the Hookah Cafe.

“I like hookah. It’s delicious, and this is a cool place to chill,” Weaver said. “It’s nice to come here after a
long day.”