PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Chrome Liquor Lounge Reinvents Bar, Image

In 2005, Zahi Elhaj (Zee) moved to State College and opened Are U Hungry?, a hitherto unknown sandwich joint that featured menu items endearingly named Fat Bitch and Fat Mom. Only four years after arriving in the United States from Lebanon, Zee and his business partner Alain Boujaoude transformed the unknown Calder Way operation into a State College food staple in a matter of weeks.

“That was fun,” he recalls. “We would work from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m., we didn’t sleep. We built that place from scratch.”

Now, nine years matured, Zee is working to transform another spot in State College’s nightlife scene: Chrome, which replaced the second Are U Hungry? location on Beaver Ave inside Brewsky’s Bottle Shop.

Zee opened Chrome in the final week of 2012’s fall semester. Nearly two years later, Chrome has undergone major renovations and serious concept and menu changes, and it’s ready for a new start.

This past summer, Zee and his team spent over $20,000 revamping the interior to be more sports friendly with a new big screen TV and added food on the menu.

Most saliently, Chrome has shed the hookah title, upped its bar, and now carries a sleeker name, Chrome Liquor Lounge.

“Mainly we’re a bar,” said Zee. “We want to address this place as a bar, but we offer hookahs as an extra thing. I think there has been a big misconception about Chrome being a hookah lounge. We are first and foremost a bar and we’re always working on improving our guests’ experience, that’s where all the changes come from.”

After a recent legislation issue with Chrome’s smoking permit, Zee chose to forego the traditional tobacco water pipes in exchange for electronic hookahs.

They look the same as regular hookahs, but are equipped with an “e-bowl” at the top that produces vapor, not smoke. The electronic bowl counts how many drags you’ve taken, and they come equipped with a remote control to adjust the heat level.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 2.25.12 PM
Photo: Jonathan Hseih

“Just like e-cigs, they are tobacco free, and customers have the option of getting it nicotine free as well,” said Zee. “Customers love it, and it guarantees a cleaner environment. On top of the $65,000 ventilation system we have in here, you don’t notice it at all. Most customers are shocked on their first visit to Chrome. It’s usually not what they expected, but in a good way.”

But Zee is most happy with recent bar upgrades, which he says provide an experience for students at least on par with any other spot downtown.

“We just came up with the new big sized drinks, our version of the pitcher, the Bootlegger,” he said. The name was derived from an open contest on their facebook page– the winner received $500.

The owner assured that while the liquor selection is better than most, the prices are comparatively the same to other bars. He also lauded the craft mojitos — including a Strawberry Basil variety with all fresh ingredients — as well as candy martinis, “a hit with the ladies.”

“In my time here, Chrome has consistently been improving,” said Jess, a bartender. “It’s evolved so much since I’ve gotten here, but we’re always getting to where we want to be.”

Chrome also features a live DJ on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The lounge hosts DJs from Local Motion Entertainment, the same emcees who play at Indigo.

“Our music is definitely one of the main things that keep people coming back,” he said.

And as for his customer base, Zee shed the possibility that Chrome may be too upscale for a college crowd, despite its sophisticated interior and top shelf drinks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s too fancy for a college student to come in,” he said. “Our clientele is largely undergrad, graduate students, and young professionals. We have half price happy hour and half price food every day of the week.”

The bar is looking to hire bartenders and security staff.

The Chrome Liquor Lounge of today is a far cry from the initial Chrome Bar and Hookah Lounge. Check it out.

About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

Comments

More by Ben

Nassib Healthy To ‘Kick Some Ass,’ Johnson And Hackenberg Seek Pro Evaluations

James Franklin made two things clear before the Lions travel South: Carl Nassib is 100 percent healthy for a game for the first time in more than a month, and Christian Hackenberg and Austin Johnson have both applied for draft evaluations from the NFL.

Gameday Observations: Return To Rec

Penn State Stomps Canisius, 81-67, In First Of Two Rec Hall Showdowns

Athletics

Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Sophomore midfielder Shea Moyer scored the game-winning goal in the 80th minute of a rainy season opener at Jeffrey Field.

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Student Life

Start The Semester Off Right With These Welcome Week Activities

Don your brightly-colored college shirt and officially begin your Penn State career with these Welcome Week activities.

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Start The Semester Off Right With These Welcome Week Activities

Don your brightly-colored college shirt and officially begin your Penn State career with these Welcome Week activities.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend