DeKALB – Cameron Dye, one of the four owners of Aroma's Hookah Bar, 811 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, across the street from the DeKalb Police Department, said he will welcome patrons to bring their own marijuana and smoke it in his bar soon.
Thanks to ordinance amendments approved by the City Council on Monday, Dye's new business model will be legal.
"We're hoping it will be a boost to our business," Dye said after Monday's meeting.
Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane was the only alderman to oppose the changes. He tried to propose an amendment before the vote, to remove the allowance for smoking marijuana in tobacco shops, but that did not receive any support from his fellow alderman.
The council approved changes to Chapter 64 of the Municipal Code, about smoking regulations, to conform to the legalization of recreational marijuana and tobacco laws prohibiting anyone from younger than age 21 from smoking or buying either tobacco or marijuana. Per Illinois state law and changes to the municipal code, smoking marijuana or tobacco is prohibited inside any public places, including bars, restaurants, schools and other places.
However, the new law allows smoking in areas already designated for the purpose: such as private residences, retail tobacco stores already in existence before the law change (as long as they comply with existing restrictions such as age and quantity) and designated smoking rooms in hotels or nursing homes.
That includes Aromah's Hookah Bar, where those age 21 and older will be allowed to bring their own marijuana and smoke it. Dye said he plans to charge per seat, and will regulate the marijuana consumption to the lowest level of his three-story facility, the basement.
He said smokers can expect to pay $7 for the first two hours if they want to smoke marijuana in his establishment, and then $5 for every hour after that. The next closest hookah bar offering a place for marijuana smokers is Springfield, Dye said.
Northern Illinois University announced in late 2019 they would continue to prohibit marijuana consumption on campus regardless of Illinois law, and Dye said he hopes to draw those interested from the campus to his establishment.
"Our clientele falls between [age] 21 to 25," Dye said. "We'll hopefully get some NIU students, because they're [on] a weed-free campus."
The hookah bar has been in business for about a year, he said. In order to ensure compliance, Dye said all patrons will be required to show photo identification to verify their birth date before entering the establishment.
Dye also is trying to appeal for council support in obtaining a bring your own beverage license for his hookah bar so smokers can drink, too.
That amendment to Chapter 38 "Intoxicating Liquors" of the DeKalb Municipal Code still is under discussion by the City Council and has not yet come for a final vote.