Sunny Patel, the 23-year-old owner of South Shore’s newest bar and hookah lounge, hates being bossed around.
“I hate working for someone else,” he said, sitting at the dimly lit bar of his new business, X Hale, as LED light bounced off the walls and created a bluish glow. “I wanted to be my own boss.”
X Hale officially opened May 1 in a basement located at 27 Hwy 50 in Stateline, Nev. It serves alcohol and hookahs — water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco and non-tobacco products.
Leaning against the bar, Patel said he opened a hookah lounge because it’s something the area didn’t have before. But it wasn’t his first choice for a business.
The South Tahoe High School graduate originally wanted to open a restaurant in the same location.
“I’ve had a passion for cooking since I was little,” said Patel, who graduated in 2011 from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles.
But the cost of transforming the space to meet the needs of a restaurant was too high, he said.
So the Fresno native decided to open a hookah lounge and bar with a “Vegas-style” twist. He found his location and began work on the conversion in February.
Needless to say, he had his work cut out for him.
“It was a dungeon,” he said of the basement, before beginning work on X Hale. “It was horrible.”
For the next three months, Patel worked at the lounge seven days a week to create the fun, clean, “upscale” establishment he envisioned. Some days he’d start work at 6 a.m. and not finish until 2 a.m. the next day, he said.
He used recycled material for many of the wall and ceiling decorations, taking care to design each lounge space differently.
“All the work is custom work,” he said.
Patel said he made design decisions with the customers in mind.
For example, anyone can change the music in the pool room by connecting smart phones to the speaker system via blue tooth. That way, patrons can pick what they want to hear when they want to hear it.
“I could’ve put a jukebox in and charged the customers,” he said, “but I wanted them to choose whatever they wanted and not have to pay.”
Patel said he hopes the hookah lounge will eventually generate enough money so he can construct a kitchen at the location and offer customers food options.
Until then, Patel said he’s happy with the final product.
“It’s amazing,” he said.
X Hale is open Monday through Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., Thursday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. It is a 21-and-over business, but currently offers 18 and over admission on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.