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Smokin’ Aces brings something new to Valdosta

When you think of hookahs, what do you imagine? Does the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland come to mind? If that’s the case, then you may find such relaxed characters inside the Smokin’ Aces Hookah Lounge located at 115 N. Ashley St.
Smokin’ Aces opened its doors on Feb. 12 to the general public for business. Customers can go there to relax, smoke on one of the many hookahs inside and unwind. The owners, Joe Moss and Chris Matuszczac, are just two laid-back guys who wanted to spread the hookah-love around and bring some good relaxation to Valdosta.
“I first got started with hookah bars when a friend of mine opened one in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area,” Moss said. “I spent a lot of time in there and it evolved into this.”
Smokin’ Aces has seen a definite increase in business since it opened last week; returning customers, especially college students and air-force personnel, have seemed happy with the new hookah bar. Moss said that the business is doing even better than he and Matuszczac expected, even with the very recent recovery from the economic slump.
“It’s gotten so popular so fast that we might start having to do reservations, especially at night,” Moss said. “That’s when business really picks up.”
Of course, working the dream job takes time and effort.
“We had this idea about a year and a half ago,” Moss said. “But we didn’t start until November because of bad timing and there were prediction scares, what with the economy the way it was. But when we started, the city was good and cooperative; we needed to pass an inspection, have 65 cubic feet of air per person per minute, conditioned air along with an air purifier, and also a tobacco license.”
Not only did Moss and Matuszczac have to make sure everything checked out with the legal system, but they also have to make sure the hookahs themselves are up to par.
“They’re a lot to maintain,” Matuszczac said. “We have to provide disposable mouthpieces for the customers, wash the bowls between each use, change out the different parts to keep everything clean and do a thorough cleaning after we close. But it’s definitely worth it.”
Even with all of the months of hard work and effort that goes into opening a small business, most research shows that a lot of small businesses don’t make it past their first year. Matuszczac and Moss, however, feel quite confident that they’ll be around for a while.
“We’ll be here, for sure. Right now [as we’re coming out of the economic crisis] is a good time to open businesses,” Moss said. “It’s good for everyone.”
What would also be good for everyone is to bring some TLC to the shop; the walls remain unpainted, remnants and traces from the previous owners still linger about in the room, and there’s that “just moved in and relatively unorganized” feeling. In other words, it’s the perfect blank canvas; there are already plans for painting the walls with murals and mosaics and putting in different art pieces, but it will take some time.
“It may not look like much right now,” Moss said, “because the walls need some new paint and we need to put up some decorations, but in roughly a month everything will come together.”
What will these decorations include? For starters, a flat-screen TV is on its way, local artists can show their work inside, and there has also been talk about a salt-water aquarium. Other features in the works include an oxygen bar (where customers can recreationally inhale a higher amount of oxygen than is usually found in the atmosphere) and aromatherapy station. There are currently 10 hookahs with five more en route, and there are already roughly 45 different flavors of tobacco, with Pink Lemonade and Pineapple being the most popular.
To make some headway in the Valdosta scene, Smokin’ Aces will also be taking part in First Fridays to promote themselves and encourage relaxation with art. For college students and other Valdosta locals, the Smokin’ Aces may be the most crucial part for enjoying a night out on the town; after walking the streets of the lively Friday evening in downtown Valdosta, people will want to find a place to relax.
As an added bonus to the chill atmosphere, Smokin’ Aces also offers discounts to students and military. Why?
“Really, they’re the ones that need to save the money more than anyone else,” Moss said.
Be that as it may, there is another reason why Smokin’ Aces gives military discounts, that is a small piece of trivia about why the bar is called Smokin’ Aces. Moss’s cousin gave him his first hookah while stationed in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, and as a way to honor the Air Force pilots, called “aces,” Moss incorporated their slang into the business name.
Smokin’ Aces invites its customers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the break from the business of mainstream life. As Matuszczac and Moss can testify, their customers are very happy with the new hookah lounge.
“Everybody needs a chill spot,” Moss said.
You can contact the owners at (229) 244-3088. Artists on campus, if you would like to have some of your work featured in Smokin’ Aces, Matuszczac and Moss would be happy to look at your portfolios.

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