In 1998 Paymon Raouf, present owner of Paymon’s Mediterranean Café and Lounge embarked on a venture that would bring an entire industry to fruition. He began researching the idea to use a little known cultural practice dating back centuries, into the present and mainstream by combining the water pipe with the modern day food and beverage lounge.
The Hookah, Shisha or Nargileh as it is called in various countries in the Middle East is essentially a water pipe that is used to smoke flavored tobacco. Although several small coffee and tea houses accommodated patrons with water pipe smoking in the US since the 60’s, the Hookah was never used as the centerpiece of its business and especially in a business model that also featured alcohol, international cuisine and American pop music. To say that the Hookah Lounge was a complete departure from the typical cultural tea house is a gross understatement! The fusion of all of these elements along with a Moroccan themed, art adorned interior caused the Hookah Lounge to become the model in which all other Hookah establishments used to create their own hookah businesses.
Many of the early imitators of the Hookah Lounge went so far as to use the color of the paint used on the walls by adopting our signature Hollyhock Red as their very own interior color. Customers began converting rooms in their homes to have their own private Hookah Lounge look.
The Hookah Lounge became so popular in the early 2000’s that it became a generic term used to describe a business that offered Hookahs, alcoholic drinks, food, and music. Paymon quit defending the trade name Hookah Lounge during that time as it became too time-consuming to defend but he still owns hookahlounge.com.
The name Hookah Lounge was first created and registered by Paymon in 2000 and the business started in a cozy, 900 sq. foot room. From this small room an industry was born in the US which saw American companies producing and importing hookahs, tobacco, charcoal and other related products. The concept and mechanisms of the hookah have also evolved and has contributed to the creation of the e-cig and vape industry.
Founder Paymon Raouf opened the original location on Maryland Parkway (University District) in 1988 as a local deli featuring Middle Eastern food and beverages under the name Middle Eastern Bazaar. Several years later the name was changed to the Mediterranean Cafe to reflect the diversity of cuisines in the Mediterranean region. In 2002 the name was changed again to Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Lounge. The final name change was due to branding the Paymon’s name and to bring attention to its full-service operation with the opening of the Hookah Lounge. In 2004 Paymon’s opened its second full-service location at 8380 West Sahara Avenue. The third location opened during the summer of 2018 at 8955 S. Eastern Ave., adjacent to the 215.
This small neighborhood eatery evolved into one of the most highly awarded restaurants in Las Vegas. The evolution of the café and lounge saw a complete transition from a single-cuisine menu to a multiple cuisine format representing several countries within the Mediterranean region while reaching out to many of the vegetarian and vegan clientele. The menu focuses on Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern specialties though also offers several specialties from India.
Paymon’s is open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining and uses only the freshest and finest ingredients. The use of zero trans-fat oils, non-msg spices, natural preservatives, no additive, hand trimmed lean cuts of meat etc. are all a testament to Paymon’s philosophy of delivering the best dining experience.
The ambiance at all 3 locations is warm, casual and fun. The Mediterranean art pieces and accessories adorn the walls to give the true feeling of being taken to another place. All locations have a main dining room and outside patio which can accommodate approximately 150 guests at a time.
We are extremely proud to be the first Hookah Lounge in the United States!