make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

Hookah bar fined for violating smoking ban

READ MORE: Hookah bar fined for violating smoking ban

North Carolina's indoor smoking ban took effect January 2. You knew it was just a matter of time before a business in the area would get hit with a violation.

The Juggling Gypsy Cafe on Castle Street in Wilmington is the first establishment in the Cape Fear Region that we know of to be fined for violating the smoking ban. It's a $200 fine. Owner Sebastian Gomez tells us he plans to appeal the New Hanover County Health Department's ruling.

"First of all we don't consider ourselves a bar and restaurant," Gomez said. "We're a live studio and they're debating us on that, but yeah we're smoking here. In fact we're smoking more than ever at the Juggling Gypsy, but it's not tobacco, so where's the problem?"

The Juggling Gypsy had tried to use a loophole in state law that allows performers in productions to smoke. The hookah bar required patrons to sign releases saying they are performers with live internet cameras.

That apparently did not stop the Health Department from enforcing the smoking ban.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


here we go again

More of our rights taken away. They just want your money.
Tabaco founded our great nation.
the non smokers wanted a place to go with out smoke. Well you got it restraunts. Well us smoker desirve a place to go as well.Game halls and hooka bars.
If they dont sale food then wy the heck not.
I can understand restraunts wile serving food.
I dont like the smell of smoke eather when I eat
and im a smoker. But after 10:00pm one should be alowd to smoke if they want to.
How can you not call this law a comunist law???

Health Dept. is clearly being an A**hole.... preventing a "Hookah Bar" from doing business. Smoking IS their business, just like the cigar shops.
I don't smoke. I don't go there and likely will not, but to see these petty feuds fueled by a little government power without applying common sense is an obvious waste of taxpayer money. Get real, get off their back and go do something productive for a change!

Doesn't the Health Dept. have bigger battles to deal with?

Sebastian Gomez - can you explain?

Could you explain "Hookah"? Like, what you smoke in a hookah, what the culture is, etc? Also, is it true that the tobacco products used in a hookah are different because they dont have tar and nicotine in them like cigarettes?

Not alot of people know about what it is you do, so that might be why they are so down on it.


Wilminton HooKah Bar

The smoke in the bar is in no way as bad as the smoke the Legislature blows out of their mouth by rapeing the taxpayer of their hard earned money and giving it to those that do not work. This is just another way to put money in the hands of lying politicians so they can fund their teapot museums and catnip projects.


A law is passed and the people obey. The government is in everything now. You are even going to need a federal permit to friggin fish! They control the air, the water, automobile industry, the banking industry, your health care. Where does it end before they have total control?

Cigar stores get an exception, why not hookah houses?

I applaud the Juggling Gypsy for trying to keep their "live production set" open! This smoking ban should have more openings for ADULTS who want to enjoy tobacco be able to do so indoors. "Vote with your feet" is one of my favorite sayings- if you don't want to go where there is smoke, THEN DON'T.


What the business owner and the staff there is basically fighting their right to exist. If you ever been to the Juggling Gypsy, you know that it is a chill place where people not only go to get a good beer or smoke a hookah, but there is a great sense of community there, which you will hardly find in other bars around Wilmington.

And why the hell shouldn't they fight for it when rich white people (*cough*friends and associates of the legislative*ahem*) can still hang out in the cigar shops? Oh right, who cares about the lower class and the younger people who just want to smoke flavored tobacco and herbal shisha? Unlike cigar shops, they don't deserve an exemption at all!

So seriously, go Juggling Gypsy! As for the haters, put out your disgusting cigars and remember not everything is about you and all your big important friends.

Oh, please.....

You wrote:

"And why the hell shouldn't they fight for it when rich white people (*cough*friends and associates of the legislative*ahem*) can still hang out in the cigar shops? Oh right, who cares about the lower class and the younger people who just want to smoke flavored tobacco and herbal shisha?"

You lose credibility when you have to resort to ludicrous race/class talking points.

On the other hand, your sociology professor would be proud........

Don't cut off your nose to spite your face

Cigar smokers are in favor of the existence of cigar and hookah bars. Direct your anger(haters) at the non smoking lobby.

Only been there once....but still...

I've been to this very hookah "bar" and it's not like a smoke filled boozing bar.

Some girlfriends and I went in there to watch the belly dancing and we were pleasantly suprised to find they didn't serve alcohol. Not only that---but there was no stale smoke smell like with cigarettes.

We'd never smoked hookah before, nor are we cigarette smokers....but we enjoyed ourselves and the hot tea we drank. It made for a great girls night out.

Smoke ban?

So the smoking ban keeps businesses, that were started to supply and support smokers, from allowing smoking within the business? If someone that is a non-smoker enters a smoking based business what did they expect? I'm a non-smoker personally, but come on!

I think I will lobby for a ban on stupid. But that might get in the way of our law making ability.

Too Far

I'm a non-smoker myself. It does not offend me that places allow smoking inside, just as long as they offer an area sectioned off for non-smokers. Most of the places I go to anyway don't allow smoking inside so it doesn't matter.

Why doesn't the gov't find better things to do than attack people and businesses.

Long live Hookah Bars!!!

It's a HOOKAH BAR. They have always been a hookah bar. Some people go there with the solitary intention of smoking a hookah. The ban should exclude establishments who specialize in tobacco products. I don't smoke cigarettes, but I do enjoy shisha. It's a completely different smoking experience. You don't "smell like an ashtray" after smoking a hookah. There are no additives or chemicals, just sweet syrupy tobacco :) In some jurisdictions, hookah businesses can be exempted from the policies through special permits. Hopefully the Gypsy will be granted one.

And the idiot who called the owners "children" for their crafty exploits has a thing or two to learn about determination and values.

This isn't the only illegal thing they are doing

They also need to be investigated for allowing minors to smoke in the establishment. A few months ago, we found out our 15 year old son had been frequenting the establishment and not once was carded. We have since dealt with our son and also tipped off the authorities but I doubt anything will be done about it.

you hit the nail on the head

I, also, have known quite a few minors who have been allowed to smoke at this establishment. We aren't talking 17 and borderline 18 years old, these were 15 and 16 year old...and there is a good chance a 14 year old was allowed to smoke with his 17 and 18 year old friends as well. I am not talking about rumors or hearsay, these are people that I have known personally who have said to me they went to this place to smoke. If this guy is such an upstanding and honest businessman, STOP catering to children!

Parenting works better....

...than tipping off the authorities, just like what you did. Can't do much better than a parent being aware and proactive!

Good parenting there

So you're kid has been going to bars without your knowledge? Do you really think its just the Juggling Gypsy? The problem isn't the bar, it is you. Get involved in your kid's life. Find his fake id too, I'm sure he has one.

The Juggling Gypsy

The Juggling Gypsy employees, from my experience, ALWAYS card people for hookahs. Perhaps you son's older friends ordered a hookah and allowed him to smoke, which employees there try to regulate but it is difficult when it's really crowded. They try to encourage folks with underage friends to self regulate and ask them to leave if they don't, but it doesn't always work out like that when the employees are busy.

really? Self regulate?

Give me a break. This is an adult establishment that caters to ADULTS ONLY. Smoking and alcohol, not X-Box and skateboards. What business does an underage person even have going in there, even if it is with friends? If they aren't 18, they should not be allowed in the doors...No Questions Asked! Do you think all teenagers are going to abide by the rules when their peers are with them and want to join in the activity?

Where does it stop??

I'm a non-smoker. For many years I've wished that a public building / non-smoking law would be instituted. I've often felt others habits were being forced upon me. Of recent, I have sincerely enjoyed being able to enjoy a drink without having my clothes smell like an ashtray. However, I am also mindful that the pendulum swings in two directions. Smokers have rights, business owners have rights and as long as their choices do not infringe upon my choice to maintain a healthy lifestyle - who cares?!?! Particularly in a Hookah-type establishment; why shouldn't people who smoke, be allowed to smoke together in a public building? I'm confident no one would enter such a facility without full knowledge of the hazards contained within. Who are we trying to protect and from whom?

Hookah Bars and Smoking

Apparently, smoking in this type of establishment works in Virginia. Perhaps North Carolina should worry less about collecting money anyway they can and let people enjoy themselves. If they must have their money, why don't they impose a fee/tax for being able to smoke. They charge a tax for buying gas, food, beer/wine and liquor,as well as tobacco products.

Not tobacco?! Hmmm maybe

Not tobacco?! Hmmm maybe the real news story here is what are they smoking?

Casting Call

Perhaps you should do a casting call for your live performers. If a pilot can do it...

Smoking Ban

this is very funny- i needed that laugh-

Grow up & obey the law!

The owners of this business are acting like children. This is the new law, so put your big boy pants on and deal with it.

Grow up?

Grow up? How about you smarten up! This is a local business that would close if they didn't look for loopholes in the new law. They do not sell alcohol or food from what I gather...merely a place for people to smoke out of hookas and meet/ surf the net. They have mouths to feed why not stand up and fight? They bother no one, they do not infringe on anyone's rights, and should be supported by the local community to fight for their rights as well.

They do sell food and

They do sell food and alcohol at The Juggling Gypsy. If they only had hookah for sale, they would be considered a tobacco shop and would be exempt from the law. Because they do serve food and drinks, they are considered a restaurant and a bar, and therefore must follow the law. If they got rid of the food and drinks, they would stop receiving fines.

live production set...really?

So I am assuming he has always considered his establishment a live production set and has always had webcams installed on premises, right? Of course not, they came up with this scam as soon as the smoking ban started. This guy is a snake and is willing to come up with any kind of far fetched scheme to avoid the ban. Wonderful example of the kind of people running "some" of the local businesses.

Scam? Snake? Scheme?

Office Fan your comment sounds a little personal to me. He is a legitimate business owner who is at risk of losing his business due to an oversight in the execution of this ban. It is common sense that hookah bars would be excluded like cigar bars. Most business owners invest everything they have to keep their businesses going and aren't 'scheming snakes' trying to hoodwink the government. You should be more concerned that our government is essentially saying that YOU either as a customer or as a business owner cannot provide a legal and legitimate service in a manner that harms no one.

live production..really

Actually my oldest son has been going there for a few years and yes, they do put on live shows, although I don't know how long they may have been putting them on the web. He has taken his younger brother there for shows, who was carded, btw.
This is a fun (remember fun, it's what we used to have before stupid took over) place for the young folks to hang out and they are not hurting anyone, well other than the obvious harm from inhaling ANY type of smoke.
Climb down off the double standard, put out your stogies, you old fogies, and let the kids have fun!
It's their world, we're just renting!