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March 26, 2014

Hookah lounge gains approvals in Methuen

METHUEN — A proposed hookah lounge on East Street has gained all the necessary local approvals to open as officials here deemed the business acceptable under city regulations.

In Andover, however, town building officials recently stopped a proposal for a hookah lounge on Park Street downtown and health officials there now want to ban smoking lounges and further restrict tobacco sales. Methuen’s Board of Health plans to review its tobacco regulations, too.

Nilesh Patel, director of Amrut Corp., proposed to open Elixer Lounge, a roughly 5,700-square-foot lounge, bar and restaurant, in one building at a former marina at 224 East St.

The building is owned by Samuel Kalil, who will lease the space to Amrut, according to license application documents filed with the City Clerk.

City officials said Amrut needs a building permit to renovate the vacant building it will use, and Patel said yesterday he hopes work will begin in a couple of months with hopes of opening around September.

“The property is going to be 100 percent modern, where people 18-plus can enjoy the afternoon or some entertainment in the evening,” Patel said. The lounge will not be geared toward any ethnic group, he said.

A hookah is a water pipe, which filters smoke through a reservoir of water. It has roots in Persia and India, but spread throughout the Middle East and gained popularity in North America and Europe. Traditionally, it is used to smoke flavored tobacco, but herbal non-tobacco options are available.

According to plans filed with the Licensing Board, the space will have a large lounge, a dance floor, a bar and patio seating. Patel said the whole lounge area will be designated for smoking. About 2,000 square feet was reserved for another tenant, according to the plans.

The lounge will serve snacks prepared by local vendors, along with drinks.

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