One of San Antonio’s first hookah lounges, Shisha Cafe opened in 2003. Originally open in the evenings, the cafe was small and provided a relaxing atmosphere for smoke, eat a light meal, and play chess or backgammon. Cafe owner, Majeed, opened Shisha Cafe to bring a taste of the Middle East to Texas.
The following year Shisha expanded by taking up space behind and to the right. In 2008, another expansion took place where an enclosed patio was built. During this time the menu, and shisha flavor menu, expanded.
In 2016, the biggest expansion happened when the official Kababchi Grill opened. This restaurant serves the cafe as well, since it is the same kitchen. With the opening Kababchi Grill, Shisha Cafe is now able to provide the quality food our customers love in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Since 2003, Shisha Cafe has been featured in the San Antonio Current, as well as San Antonio Express News multiple times. After Kababchi Grill opened, the restaurant has been featured in Kens 5 News, Twenty Something SA, and San Antonio Express News again.
In an interview with Assistant Manager Heila Horwath, we’ve learned about how Shisha Cafe has changed over the years.
How much change have the renovations had on clientele?
“We have gained a lot of new customers, but we have a pretty good base of regulars that have been coming here for 10 years plus. There are people who come here everyday, or 3 to 4 times a week. Definitely a lot new customers of all ages, ethnicites, and backgrounds. We’ve gotten a ton more families since opening Kababchi. We’ve got big groups and big changes happening.”
There are more Middle Eastern restaurants and hookah lounges in the area than 10 years ago. Just driving here, I saw three I had never seen before. How has that affected Shisha?
“When I first started here, we used to be packed! From open to close, there were always people here. There’s definitely a lot more competition. I think that [the opening of new hookah lounges] has changed how people choose to come here. A lot of people come in and they say we’re the first hookah lounge in San Antonio they remember. Or they say “Oh we tried this new place, but it’s not the same”.
Do you think Shisha Cafe will be expanding more in the future?
“I think the owner wants to really take care of Shisha first. The kitchen was renovated a month ago. He plans on changing the tables and chairs, as well as some more renovations. He’s got about 30 years in the restaurant industry so he knows what he’s doing. “
What’s your favorite dish? Your favorite shisha flavor?
“Beef Tikka or Beef Shawerma, but all the food is delicious. Cream with mint, and Twisted. Twisted with mint is good too.”
Thank you Heila for your time.