Sunday, June 28, 2009

McBride Shuts Down Milford Hookah Bar Citing Health Concerns

Milford (WTNH) - A club owner is fighting the city of Milford because he said he wants to open a private, hookah club and they are not allowing it due to health concerns.

Since the "customer is always right," Sam Karout, who owns "Olive Tree Middle Eastern" restaurant in Milford, decided to take a chance on a new business idea.

"Many customers stop by asking about the hookah, if they could smoke a hookah, so the idea crossed my mind," he said.

"Hookah" is a unique process to smoke flavored tobacco through a water pipe with a long flexible tube. But Sam's venture is, for now, up in smoke thanks to a visit from the Milford City Health Department.

"Determined that it was unsafe. An unsafe practice, a public health nuisance. No different than cigarette smoking," said Milford Health Director Dennis McBride.

"I was very angry because I worked so hard since the opening, May 15th, doing lot of complimentary invitations, opening night, cost me a lot of money, working very hard," Sam said.

Sam contends that he has done nothing wrong since he claims his club is private. Now, his more than $150,000 investment sits as empty as the hookah's on the countertop waiting to be used.

"Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding by the Health Department by misinterpreting the law. They thought it was for public, it's just for members," he said.

But Sam's lawyer has already filed an appeal with the city and he is hoping the aromatic flavor of his many tobaccos will fill the room with happy customers, since he still believes they were right in the first place.

"We are not harming society in anyway," said Sam.

Sam said he hopes he can open this weekend because he is under the assumption that during the appeals process, he can serve his club members.

Dr. Dennis McBride, Milford's Health Director, said he hopes the action taken today sets a precedent to shutting down other "Hookah" clubs in the interest of public health.

Story by: Jamie Muro Original Post Click HERE

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