You’re stranded in the middle of the desert. It’s dark and you’ve been in the blistering sun all day trying to find a safe haven. Your tired eyes peer off into the distance and you see the moon radiating light down upon something that doesn’t quite seem real. Light refracts off of what you hope is water in a secret paradise you could have only dreamed of that day.
The middle of nowhere desert you were just in is secluded Bloomsburg (though it rains here much more), and your secret paradise is The Moonlit Oasis hookah lounge. The Moonlit Oasis is known as a comfortable, friendly place for many found in downtown Bloomsburg, just next to the Capitol bar. The familiar environment will not just be a perk for Bloomsburg much longer. The Hidden Oasis, another sister lounge, plans to open in late November in Selinsgrove.
Owner of the lounge Chris Gefvert, 23, says the crafting of The Moonlit Oasis was planned to inspire a franchise of lounges with a core theme.
The Moonlit Oasis’theme is created by a sand-colored bottom of the divided walls that surround the lounge. The top half is a broad, midnight blue horizon painted with a moon and clouds. Small white lights hang down around the lounge to recreate the stars in this paradise.
Gefvert’s aspiration to be the first to successfully run a hookah lounge franchise in Pennsylvania has inspired the opening of The Hidden Oasis. He describes The Hidden Oasis to be an overgrowth of The Moonlit Oasis. The new lounge will be decorated as a golden Egyptian temple that has become overrun by roots and trees.
Preparations have included many early hours for Gefvert. A typical day for him consists of checking the downtown strip of Main Street thrift shops to search for things you wouldn’t normally find for the new lounge.
Gefvert’s dream is not too far of a stretch. 80% of the funding for The Hidden Oasis has been done by customer support. First-time customers become regulars easily because of the great service and experience they encounter each time. “We have such a great customer base, people actually want to see the business expand,” he said.
“I think Hidden Oasis opening is a great opportunity for Chris to branch out,’’ said Ashleigh Wells, 22-year-old Senior at Bloomsburg University. “I think it will do really well in Selinsgrove and I can’t wait to go down and try it.”
Gefvert and his staff create a fun, at home ambiance every night at the lounge. “It’s a place that my friends and I can go to relax and catch up, and it’s a great place to meet new awesome people,” Wells said. “Sometimes I’ll go in by myself and get work done.”
Customers can rely on a friendly member of the staff to always welcome them in a recommend an awesome flavor of shisha to smoke. “There needs to be that sense of ownership,” he said. “The customers have the security of knowing that most of the time I’m going to be here.”
Sophomore of Bloomsburg University, Evan Lepovetsky, has been a regular with The Moonlit Oasis because of the comfort he feels when he is there. “The vibe of the lounge makes you feel as though you are in a safe place where you can let go an enjoy company,” the 19-year-old said.
While customers smoke, they have the luxury to take advantage of several leisure activities. There are a variety of board and card games located at the front of the lounge that are welcome to anyone as well as an occasional Super Smash Bros. Brawl Wiimatch in the back on the projector.
“Games are more core of the business than the hookahs are,” Gefvert said. “I’ve found that the hookahs have become just an afterthought to the actual social aspect of the lounge. People ask themselves, ‘Am I coming here just for the hookah, or am I coming here to hang out with people and be in a good environment to do something I enjoy, like hookah?’”
You could say that The Moonlit Oasis has grown so big that it is taking over areas, like Selinsgrove.
A $25 donation entitles the individual to two V.I.P parties. One will be hosted at The Moonlit Oasis and the other will be at The Hidden Oasis so regulars can see what they’ve invested in. The parties will be free, all you can smoke of any flavors.
A $50 donation entitles the individual to the two V.I.P. parties as stated above and also a place for their name on the founder’s plaque that will hang in The Hidden Oasis.
Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/oasis
Loyal customer Anthony Cucchi, 20, donated $50 to the cause. The Bloomsburg University Junior feels that he is donating towards “something new and exciting” that he also feels positively about. “The first hookah chain in PA… I am a part of it, and I helped make it happen,” he said.
Gefvert aspires to open another lounge later down the line, “The next one is going to be a really, really fun one,” he said. The Frozen Oasis will be the third planned hookah lounge in the franchise. The Frozen Oasis will be an extreme contrast from the first two lounges but still relevant to the theme. There will be trees and plants, but in an ice age where everything has frozen over.
There isn’t much marketing with a place like The Moonlit Oasis. Gefvert believes word of mouth has been the best marketing for his lounge, “It’s one of those things where the service itself is the marketing,” he said. “Ads wouldn’t bring in anyone who hasn’t been here already. People need to hear how good it is because that brings in the people who wouldn’t normally have come.”
Lepovetsky recommends the lounge at least once a week to friends and even brought in 15 people at once to the lounge one night.
So tell a friend, tweet or share this article, and spread the word of the overgrowth coming soon.
The Hidden Oasis
22 S Market St., Selinsgrove, PA
Hours when it opens: Saturday 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
$10 per person
The Moonlit Oasis
37 E Main St., Bloomsburg, PA
Hours: Saturday 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
$10 per person