WKU grad to open hookah lounge

WKU graduates Kenan Fish and Joshua Smith paint the building that will soon be Cloud 9 Hookah Saturday. Fish and Smith hope to be able to open their hookah lounge by April 13.

Anna Anderson

Paint splattered and drywall dust littered the floors, walls and windowsills of the new storefront. The building, soon to open as Cloud 9 Hookah, was in constant motion with construction and renovation.

The owners, Joshua Smith and Kenan Fish, were also in constant motion. They were doing the work themselves, saving the plumbing and electricity for licensed workers.


Their goal for all of this hard work is a place for the Bowling Green community to come and share their passion for hookah.

“Hookah is a sexy way to smoke,” Smith said.

Their new place is set to open in mid-April at 802 Broadway Ave.

Smith, originally from Boone, N.C., and a 2009 graduate of WKU, recently returned to Bowling Green to open the shop alongside his friend Fish.

The pair roomed together in Pearce-Ford Tower as sophomores, and Smith said they have been best friends ever since.

After leaving WKU with a degree in International Relations with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies, Smith left Bowling Green with his wife, Wendy, to work in Virginia.

Yet, after time away from Bowling Green, the couple was eager to return.

“We were not fans of Virginia at all,” said Wendy, also a WKU graduate with a degree in hospitality management.

Joshua said he became more involved in hookah during his time in Virginia, although he enjoyed smoking it during college and during his year studying abroad in Jordan.

Fish, also a WKU graduate, was also introduced to hookah in college. The Elizabethtown native admitted he wasn’t as enthusiastic as Joshua was.

“Josh got into hookah first,” Fish said. “I didn’t initially like hookah when I tried it.”

Things changed in the next few years as Smith started learning more about hookah. After he graduated from WKU with a psychology degree, Fish spent time abroad in West Africa and Costa Rica.

He returned to Bowling Green in December 2011 and agreed to open the shop with Smith.

After scoping the area for a suitable building, Smith said he happened upon the current location as he was driving on Broadway.

Since purchasing the space, located on the corner of Broadway and High Street, Smith and Fish said they have been working to create a place where people can come and be comfortable.

Fish and Smith want to keep the design choices minimalistic and modern, a step away from the look and feel of a lot of hookah lounges.

Wendy helped the partners make these design decisions, while still working remotely for her old employer in Virginia.

“Our goal is to take the tradition of hookah and integrate it into a modern experience,” Joshua said.