Forget About Iran's Nukes, Tel Aviv Cafe Offering Everything for Just Over a Buck

'Nowadays no salary is enough,’ says high-tech exec at Cofix cafe in north Tel Aviv.

Cofix, a new cafe offering everything on its menu, from coffee to sandwiches, for a mere NIS 5 (about $1.25), generated some hysteria upon its opening in north Tel Aviv Monday, knocking the prime minister and Iran’s nuclear program off the patrons’ radar.

Only a few hours after it opened, dozens of people were lined up to get in, with the queue winding down Ibn Gvirol Street.

Most of the customers suspected they’d be getting poor-quality food, but when they discovered the fare was decent, they took it as a miracle.

While you’d think the concept would appeal primarily to the impoverished middle class, those in and waiting to get in Cofix seemed more of an established crowd. Take Saguy, a high-tech executive who lives in the area and was particularly excited by the bourekas and fresh-squeezed juice. Why would someone like him need cheap eats? “Nowadays no salary is enough, didn’t you know that?” he replied. “Wherever you can save, you save. I wouldn’t bring a date here, but I’d come here before the date.”

Just to put things into proportion, a cup of coffee at a cafe normally costs anywhere from NIS 10 to NIS 15.

There wasn’t enough space for everyone in the narrow cafe, so customers grabbed the tables at the adjacent shwarma joint and the nearby Ilan’s House of Coffee, which was practically empty.

Most of the patrons seemed to have heard about Cofix from social media or WhatsApp. Tal, an 18-year-old waitress, heard about it on Facebook.

“It sounded totally awesome,” she said. “I’m a waitress myself but I can’t afford the cafe I work in, because it’s too expensive.” She pronounced the coffee “really delicious.”

Branch manager Lilach Arazi said that while the cafe is meant to have only two workers to keep costs low, the frenzy led her to call in future franchisees and anyone else she could think of to help out. Arazi sounded euphoric, but says she knew all along that this was going to be a smashing success. “I knew, because I’ve always believed in the concept designer Avi Katz, who is one of the best partners in the country or the world,” she said.

Asked if she thought there would be such long lines a year from now, she said, “They’ll be here in a hundred years, too. There are going to be another two branches in Tel Aviv and then all over the country, don’t worry. There were thousands of people here today.”

‘It’s not crap’

I waylay two more exiting customers, one of whom was from Ramat Gan and the other from Netanya. “We didn’t believe there was coffee at this price,” one of them said. “We came, we drank, we were amazed. It’s not crappy coffee. It’s actually the same coffee that’s overpriced at the chains. We’ll come every day.”

One of the people who spoke to this reporter asked if the story would be on the front page, and I reminded him about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington and the fuss over Iranian President Hassan Rohani. He insisted that this story was more important. Perhaps, he said, places that sell everything for NIS 5 in Tehran, Ramallah and Tel Aviv could be a formula for peace in the Middle East.

Haim, a resident of Uman in Ukraine who is visiting Israel with his family, said he bought two of everything on the menu and it cost him only NIS 80. “We would have ordered more, but they ran out of some things, like carrot juice,” he said.

He noted that he works in marketing and distribution and he knew a success when he saw one. “Today you go into the most pathetic restaurant and you pay NIS 200,” he said. “When we finish eating, I’m getting back on line to get two of all the desserts.”

Daniel Bar-On