The adage goes that you can’t fight City Hall; you can, of course, but the question is whether you can win the fight. And in the case of Tempe hookah lounge owner Anis Ben Harzallah, it seems his best bet after two losses is to move on, but not to throw in the towel.
On Nov. 6, the Tempe City Council denied Harzallah’s bid to get the panel to reconsider its earlier decision against altering his use permit to allow smoking at his hookah lounge, located at 53 E. Broadway Road. As we noted in this space Sept. 16: “Harzallah obtained a city use permit that only allowed his customers to buy flavored tobacco and water pipes, not to actually use a hookah in the lounge. As a result, Harzallah opened himself to attack from critics who don’t want to see tobacco smoked anywhere, and certainly weren’t happy about such a business opening across a busy intersection from Tempe Union High School.”
As reported last week by the Tribune’s Mike Branom, Harzallah is considering moving his business, and he recently went before a city hearing officer to get permission for a hookah lounge at 1400 S. McClintock Drive. But his attorney told Branom that the new location might need $4,000 worth of renovations to meet city air quality standards.
Harzallah’s hearing officer and the city’s Development Review Commission thought highly enough of him and his business that they supported amending his use permit to allow smoking in the lounge; Mayor Hugh Hallman has praised Harzallah for investing in his business.
The city should have granted Harzallah’s request to amend his use permit, But since that obviously is not going to happen, we are hopeful that Harzallah will keep his entrepreneurial spirits high and that the city will not put more obstacles on his road to creating a successful business at the new location.