Atlanta entrepreneur Dennis McKinley’s Shisha bar and Cru Lounge restaurant have moved to Dallas.
Franchisee DaVaughnsha Carter opened in Carrollton on July 16 to serve southern food and shisha to customers in a muggy room. The room is dimly lit in green neon and artificial plants crawl on the walls.
DaVaughnsha Carter is the franchise owner of the Cru Lounge in Carrollton. He expects to open a second cru franchise in San Antonio.(Jason Janik / special article)
Customers can buy CBD gummies or order CBD oil in cocktails or in their shisha. One day, operators want to be able to sell legal marijuana products, says Kara Wilson, chief operating officer. She started out with the company as a hostess and now travels the country overseeing the openings of the Cru Lounge.
Eater first reported on Carrollton’s opening date.
McKinley says Cru is the largest black-owned nightlife chain in the United States. He’s no stranger to the food and beverage industry: he also runs a franchise called Original Hot Dog Factory, which grew out of his hometown of Atlanta and is expected to expand into cities on the east coast like New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC
Wilson describes McKinley as a “hustler” – an entrepreneur who has made a name for himself nationally. He appeared on Real Housewives of Atlanta when dating Porsha Williams, who has been on the show since 2012.
According to Kara Wilson, COO of the company, the Cru Lounge is suitable for appointments, groups and business meetings. Almost every table orders shisha, she says.(Tom Fox / employee photographer)
Cru Lounge is intended as a meeting point where customers order five or six small plates of food and smoke a water pipe. Wilson says they are known for their crazy hookah flavors like Lemon Mighty Freeze and Blueberry Ice Cream.
Cru Lounge sells veggie and beef burgers.(Jason Janik / special article)
Franchisee Carter says he was asked to invest in the company while serving in the army overseas. He started smoking a water pipe in Qatar.
The menu includes crab mac and cheese, chicken wings, lamb chops, and mashed potatoes, as well as crab cakes. Weekly specials include free hookah on Mondays and taco on Tuesdays. Cru serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Cru Lounge in Carrollton is the seventh so far, and McKinley has announced that it will be distributing Cru to 100 locations within three years. More franchises are imminent in Miami, Austin, Nashville and Las Vegas, Wilson says.
A store in Houston opened in April 2021.
“We are unstoppable, I think,” says Wilson.
Cru Lounge is located at 2512 E. Belt Line Road, Carrollton. It is open seven days a week: dinner only from 7pm Monday through Friday; and brunch, lunch and dinner from noon on Saturday and Sunday.