Columbus After Dark: Shi-Sha Lounge

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

2:30 a.m.: By now the bars are closed, but Shi-Sha Lounge stays open until 4. We arrive at the North Campus hookah bar and meet owner Mohamed Cheik, aka "Z." He recommends we try the "Stupid Fruity Hookah" in honor of Kreg & Dez's hit local rap single, a blend of orange-, plum- and grenadine-flavored tobacco.

Hookah in hand, I plop down next to multitasking Nick Seibel, immersed in a chess match and his laptop simultaneously. He worked here last year, but now he just comes in to play, study and hang out.

Across the room, a trio of young women is chatting away between puffs of strawberry-vanilla tobacco.

"It's the only place that's open so late where you don't have to be 21," explains Ohio State student Ashley Windbigler, whose friends Jackie Lormor and Emma Surber are visiting from Mansfield.

In the adjacent seats, some guys smoking a watermelon-lemon pipe have hooked up video game controllers to their laptop and are in the thick of a heated round of "Super Mario Kart." They've been playing Super Nintendo and original PlayStation games for hours.

Their pal James Thacker, a Columbus State student and "professional smoker of all varieties," munches on baklava while his friend Jennifer Lester deals him into a game of Speed that never seems to begin.

"This is the first time I've been to this one," Thacker says. "This is probably the new spot."

Shi-Sha Lounge

2369 N. High St., Campus