Interview with Vlad Melnik – hookah culture in Miami, USA
Hi, Vlad, please tell me a few words about yourself.
I came from Ukraine in November 2018. In the hookah industry for about 4 years. Almost immediately I found a job as a hookah man- in the Flame house lounge https://www.instagram.com/flamehouse_lounge/?igshid=z3xr0q0gb0ow
At the time, it was the most serious place where there were hookahs. We worked then for Regal, Matt Pear, whereas there wasn’t a single decent hookah in all of southern Florida.
2.Matt Pear https://mattpear.co/
Why is it so expensive to smoke a hookah in the United States?
Hookah prices range from $25-30 in regular establishments to $450 in elite strip clubs. I can’t say that $25-30 is expensive, but at least you can get at least some quality.
How has hookah customers’s culture changed in the last 2-4 years?
I share 3 types of clients for myself (Russians, Arabs, local Americans). Russians are the biggest gourmets in this regard, accustomed to good tobacco and, preferably, hookahs. Arabs are foil, Al Fakher and Khalil Mamoon
1.Al Fakher https://www.alfakher.com/en-us
2.Khalil Mamoon https://www.khalil-mamoon.com/
Americans don’t understand what’s going on at all, this culture is alien to them. It’s not uncommon to hear bewilderment in voice when they ask what it is.
What is your hookah location, in Russia it’s (cellars, residential buildings and very rarely in separate buildings)
Hookahs are mostly located in the so-called Plaza. These are quite large buildings, with separate premises for different types of shops, barbershops, salons, etc.
What are the differences between the industry in Russia and the United States?
The main difference is that this industry is practically undeveloped here. All we can, we try to do. But that’s not enough.
What tobacco do you work with?
These are mostly local tobacco Fumari, Azure, Starbuzz, less often ours if you can bring them on your own.
2. Azure https://www.azure-tobacco.ru/
And recently Element entered the market (finally officially) https://element-tobacco.ru/
What coals do you work on?
But for me, the most top Cocosoul is from Indonesia, but now for some reason they’re missing from the market.
What cups do you use?
1.Don Evil https://www.donbowl.ru/
How does the hookah feel in the U.S. legislative field? And it’s in your state
There are no problems here, it is not an expensive tobacco license and the industry as a whole is new for this market, which is not particularly regulated.
What category of people most often smoke (by age)?
They’re mostly young people, 21 to 40-45 years old
How do people feel about hookah smoking?
In different ways, but it’s gaining momentum. People are beginning to delve into the hookah sphere.
Which hookah companies are common (most popular)?
I think it’s most popular than just Khalil Mamoon, but I’ve been bringing a lot of Alpha Hookah lately.
1. Alpha Hookah https://alphahookah.ru/
What fortress do people smoke most often?
Light hookahs, no more than 4, smoke here, and never heard of black tobacco until we brought Duft and Musthave to Flame house.
P.S. The most basic differences between countries are the attitude towards hookah itself. In the U.S., it’s more like an accessory on the table, to show that you’re cool. There’s also a huge difference with tips. In the U.S., this is accepted as the norm, but in our countries it is not.