UWE graduate entrepreneurs launch new business - 'Houkara'

Issue date: 25 August 2010


Houkara Three graduates from the University of the West of England have overcome the challenges of the current job market to launch – 'Houkara', Bristol's first Shisha and Ice-Cream Lounge, Gloucester Road, Bristol which opens on Friday 3 September 2010.

'Houkara' is the creation of Law graduates, Sohail Ibrahim and Salim Ahmed alongside Business Studies graduate, Dale Anstey. They were inspired to start their new venture after identifying that, unlike most cities in the UK, there are currently very few Shisha Cafes in Bristol.

Salim Ahmed explains, “After graduating in 2009, we found the graduate job market tough. We are all entrepreneurial and have experience of family businesses, so starting up our own business was the next natural step. Smoking shisha is a historical, social tradition across the world, so we were surprised that in a modern multi-cultural city like Bristol there were very few places to go. We also noticed that Bristol doesn't have its own ice-cream lounge, so it seemed a novel idea to join the two.”

The name 'Houkara' is a modern twist on the Arabic word 'hookah' which is a shisha pipe. Shisha originates from the 1500s and is a water pipe used for smoking purposes. Molasses, usually made of dried fruit and in some cases containing tobacco, is heated by coals and the smoke is purified and cooled through the water after which it emerges through the suction tube, from where it is smoke.

The café has been designed in a contemporary Middle Eastern style and has a large fully roofed heated garden with floor cushions. Visitors can also enjoy a selection of ice creams and milkshakes. In addition to the traditional shishas, there is also a tobacco free version for non smokers.

Dale Anstey adds “We think that 'Houkara' will have a wide appeal both to the student population and the local community in Bristol. If you want to enjoy an ice-cream in the sunshine, chill out after a busy day at work or catch up with your friends at the week-end, you can do that in our lovely fully roofed garden where we've created a contemporary, relaxing atmosphere.”

Talking about their experience of studying at UWE, Salim Ahmed says, “Studying at UWE was a positive experience and has definitely helped us to develop the business acumen and legal experience we needed to get our business off the ground. Setting up 'Houkara' has been really hard work, as we've been juggling it with our other jobs, but it's completely rewarding and we're excited about the future. Hopefully our fellow graduates will see that there are other options out there and will feel inspired by what we've achieved.”

'Houkara', 417 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8TZ will open on Friday 3 September 2010. Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 15.00 -23.00 and Week-ends: Saturday 10.00 – 00.00, Sunday 12.00 – 22.00. For more information see: www.houkara.co.uk

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