When asked what inspired her to open Genie's Hookah Lounge, Farahnaz Shobeiri recalls the parties her grandfather used to host in Iran. “Whenever he had parties, he had hookah. People came to talk about family and politics and also to just enjoy themselves.” Now directing her own festive space, Shobeiri hopes to not only foster a similarly laid-back, convivial atmosphere but also to share her Persian heritage with others.
On Friday and Saturday, belly dancers sway to the sounds of Middle Eastern music, and tarot-card readers divine fortunes amid thick persian rugs and plush couches heaped with pillows and tinier, plusher couches. Friends can pass around handmade Egyptian hookahs filled with coconut-shell coals and dozens of different flavors, including tobacco-free herbal molasses. The lounge also boasts a high-end air-filtration system, which means that the smell of smoke or wandering cologne salesmen never overpowers the aromas of spiced meats and fresh bread from the kitchen.
Though Genie's Hookah Lounge doesn’t serve alcohol, people are welcome to bring their own wine and beer, and servers pour pure pomegranate juice and herbal teas directly into mouths via a funnel. Shobeiri hopes that the atmosphere encourages people to relax and linger over their meals. “We do everything from the heart here,” she says. "Everyone comes here to be happy.”
In 1999, four college friends founded Newport Storm Brewery with some used equipment and two Middletown garage bays. In the 15 years since then, the enterprise has been on an upward trajectory. First off, it moved into a new, 8,000-square-foot facility. Secondly, they expanded into the liquor business and starting distilling Thomas Tew Rum, a dark amber rum with hints of molasses. However, the founders never abandoned beer, their original passion. Their current craft beers range from Rhode Island Blueberry Beer, infused with juice from local berries five days into the brewing process, to Hurricane Amber Ale with Tettenang hops.
A non-profit film series, newportFILM sparks cinematic discourse in the Rhode Island community with independent programming. The organization aims to invigorate the filmmaking and film-loving communities with a festival spirit year-round, hosting themed mini-festivals on topics such as animals or the environment. Films travel to a variety of theme-appropriate venues, from summer showings under the stars to atmosphere-heavy historic theaters renovated to include high-tech A/V equipment but retain their old-fashioned scratch-and-sniff popcorn-scented seats.
Newspaper clippings placed within Charlie O’s Tavern’s extensive menu detail the exploits of the Patriots and the Red Sox. High-definition televisions let guests watch sports history unfold on gridirons and baseball diamonds. When no big games are on, the staff arranges trivia nights or opens up the pool tables for free play. Diners with a competitive streak can compete over darts after finishing a competitive eating contest or trying to paint a reproduction of Picasso's Guernica on a napkin with barbecue sauce.