Shisha Lounge Owner Feels Targeted By City

Even though his shisha lounge has been closed by the city of Edmonton, one man feels that he’s still the target of officials. Moe Tesfay was in charge of the Nyala Lounge & Bar in Edmonton, and closed down his business although the city didn’t deem the lounge to be a threat. However, the tenant that took over the lounge was issued a warning.

Tesfay leased out his space to a man from Calgary, but that man decided against operating the lounge. This is because he was told that he had to put up warning signs if he wanted to obtain a liquor license from the city. Those signs said that people must not wear colors that represent a gang or have any sort of gang related symbols, otherwise the license was going to be rejected.

“External and internal signage shall be posted at each entrance to the licensed premises advising that gang members, their associates or any person wearing gang colors or symbols are prohibited from entering the premises,” the signs said. The tenant didn’t want to display those signs, though, and backed out of the lease agreement.

“I don’t even know what a gang color is,” Tesfay said. “Red or black or white. This is pretty much discrimination. They just want me to go bankrupt and leave.” It’s not the first time that Tesfay has had a run-in with city officials, as they’ve threatened to close his lounge down multiple times before he closed it down himself.

There is support from some in the community. One resident, Mark Cherrington, said that “Edmonton has “caused a lot of disruption and suffering to this man, who by our accounts is a veteran and a great community leader.” He added that “It not only sullies the owner, it sullies the establishment and the community.”