Hookah lounges must close at midnight, Troy mandates - New York News

Hookah lounges must close at midnight, Troy mandates

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TROY, Mich. (WJBK) -

A new restriction in Troy has some hookah lounge owners saying their livelihoods could go up in smoke.

"The customers, they're thinking twice before they come in here," said Michael Tellow from Tarboosh Lounge.

That's because when the clock makes it to midnight, you don't have to go home, but you do have to get out.

"The residents are complaining there's too much traffic," said City Council Member Wade Fleming.

"Do you see any houses around here or any other hookah lounge? I don't think so," Tellow said.

"There's been a fight probably here a couple times," said Sarmed Yousef from Mist Hookah Lounge.

"One of the lounges, there was a shooting in the parking lot," Fleming said.

"There was an incident where there were baseball bats involved and people were fighting with baseball bats, and that's just something we're not going to tolerate in Troy. Our police department's already stretched. We've got a reduced police force due to budget cuts and so forth, and they've got enough work to do without being called to hookah lounges."

So the City Council voted and every single member marked the same word -- yes.

"To close it down at twelve o'clock," Yousef said.

It's only been a few days and already we're told money has been going up in smoke.

"It hurts our business for sure," Tellow said.

"It's your weekends where you make your living, and our weekends are going down 60 to 70 percent. That's absolutely huge. We can't survive like that, and I know the other hookah lounges won't survive like that," Yousef said.

"I'm a businessman and several people on the City Council are business people, so we understand the need to be profitable. We also understand the need to be safe," Fleming said.

With five hookah lounges landing in the City of Troy, more than a few feel they've been treated unfairly. Why punish everybody when only a couple bad apples are blowing it in the hookah lounge bunch? It's discrimination, some say.

"You feel like City Council wants you guys to just pack up and get out of town?" I asked Yousef.

"The way the ball's been rolled, it seems like that," he responded.

"It has nothing to do with the culture or discrimination. It's strictly control your business, control your patrons and you'll be rewarded, I believe, by this City Council and this city administration by allowing you to stay open later," Fleming said.

"Extend our hours till two. That's all we ask for," Yousef said.

Fleming said in six months the council will review the restriction and check the police records to make sure everything is running smoothly. If that is so, they will consider letting the lounges stay open until 2:00 a.m.

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