A hookah pipe is smoked at Ibiza Restaurant and Lounge on Peachtree Road in 2006 (Mikki K. Harris/AJC staff)

East Cobb hoopla over hookah restaurant

Hundreds of East Cobbers have come out in opposition to a new Mediterranean restaurant planned on the site of a former Pizza Hut that will offer food, music and flavored tobacco water pipes known as hookah.

Kasbah Bar & Bistro was approved Tuesday by the Cobb Board of Commissioners, which sought to limit business hours in response to concerns from local residents who characterized the establishment as a nightclub. The location near the intersection of Sandy Plains Road and Woodstock Road is a commercial hub surrounded by subdivisions, and neighbors voiced concerns about potential noise from late night parties.

“This is not a hookah lounge, a hookah bar, it just has a designated area where people can share a communal hookah,” Kasbah’s project manager, Andrew Washington, told commissioners. “People have a misconception about the word hookah … [the owners] are not attempting to bring anything to the area that’s illicit, it’s just that people have preconceived notions and fears of something they have not seen.”

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Washington said the restaurant would serve Lebanese and Mediterranean-style small plates and seat about 60 people. Although it was originally designed with a small dance floor, Washington said after the meeting that due to commissioner and resident concerns, that was no longer the case.

“This is going to be a fun, Mediterranean inspired restaurant that’s going to bring a different culture to the area,” Washington said. “It’s going to be gorgeous.”

Attorney Bob Beard, representing the Chatsworth Homeowners Association, said he had collected 531 names on a petition against Kasbah.

“What they’re asking for is a nightclub,” Beard said. “It’s not compatible with a community business that is family friendly.”

Lisa Hanson of nearby Wickford Circle said she worked closely with Commissioner Birrell and the property owner back in 2011 when the site was rezoned for retail and restaurant use.

“We were optimistic back then that the stipulations put into place would protect our existing neighborhood from the negative impacts of this non-residential development,” Hanson said.

Since then, she said, the neighborhood has had to contend with late-night trash pickups, noisy idling trucks and debris as the concept for the site evolved but failed to materialize.

“Let’s not make this proposed business another burden on our county and our community,” Hanson said.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the application, with Commissioner Bob Ott opposing. Washington said he hopes to be open for business by Labor Day.

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