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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Over the last ten years, hookah has experienced a boom and is becoming a part of American mainstream culture.
At our count, there are at least ten hookah spots in Louisville and many of them are brand new.
WDRB set out to find out the reasons behind this new hookah craze.
"Hookah is a big trend in big cities," said Reda Akdad, owner of Casablanca Hookah Lounge.
Akdad opened Casablanca about five months ago on Frankfort Avenue.
He says hookah originated in the Middle East and the goal for his lounge is to introduce Louisville to the authentic traditions of hookah.
"Louisville is that city where new things are coming to this town. Hookah is very different. It's a Middle Eastern thing and people appreciate that we're bringing a different trend to this town," said Akdad.
On Bardstown Road, you can find a hookah shop on nearly every block.
Many of them are new while others like Cafe 360 have been in business for ten years.
And business, employees say, is good.
"Hookah is a big part of it. It's a conversational piece if anything, something new to try," said Kasey Parrish.
With so many new stores opening, hookah is becoming a competitive business in Louisville.
Cafe 360 says they have an advantage because they're open 24 hours.
"All of a sudden, when he put the hookah in and made it 24 hours, it went from there to a line around the door," Parrish told WDRB.
But what is it about hookah? You don't get a high. No buzz.
Business owners tell WDRB it's mostly about the flavor.
"You just smoke that flavor. It filters out with cold water so you don't get a high like you said or you don't get a buzz or nothing. It's just a social thing people do," said Akdad.
"The flavor, the conversation, the atmosphere. A lot of it is the atmosphere," said Parrish.
Across the street from Cafe 360 is Smoker's Dream.
It's only been open a few months and owner Sam Zughbi says business is steady.
"It's something different. The novelty is nice. It's something different to this part of the country," Zughbi told WDRB.
Business owners are hoping the "hookah craze" is more than just a phase.
"People do it after work. They go hang out, drink some coffee, smoke some hookah and that's what we're trying to bring here. A place for people to relax after a long day of work," said Akdad.
The CDC says even though there isn't nicotine in hookah, there are still some risks involved.
For more information about the dangers, click here.