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Club Life

Hookah Nites Cafe
371 S. First St., San Jose; 408.286.0800; www.hookahnites.com

Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-midnight; Fri-Sat 11am-2am; 18-plus

Amenities: Five TVs, fish tank, sidewalk tables, coffee and dessert bar

By Jim Harrington

THIS PLACE smokes--literally. Open since mid-December, Hookah Nites Cafe is a new addition to the increasing popular hookah scene in the Bay Area. The cafe, which takes over the space vacated by the old Club Matisse, offers flavored tobacco, ranging from apple and mango to coconut and peach. Those who want a bit more exotic experience can try the fresh-fruit offerings, where the tobacco is actually burned on a screen placed at the core of the fruit (apple, orange, etc.) and then inhaled into the mouth through the regular hookah device. The cost ranges from $15 to $25 per load, which isn't too bad when you figure that each purchase typically lasts for 45 minutes or so.

The cafe is still developing its scene, with plans to convert the interior space into a smoker's paradise. As it stands, the smoking is done at tables on the sidewalk in front of the cafe. Inside, folks can order coffee drinks, Italian sodas, desserts and sandwiches to complement the hookah experience. The cafe is smartly decorated with large murals painted on the walls, a fish tank cut into one wall, the regular assortment of tables and chairs, a few couches and five televisions. The televisions are usually turned down, in favor of music, except when the Lakers are playing. The owner, Paul Zumot, is a huge fan of Gary Payton, and there are several photos of GP on the walls. "If there is a game, it stops everything," he says. Zumot is hoping that the downtown denizens are game for a place to hookah up.

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From the March 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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