finks

Every time I look at the cleaned out shell of what used to be the best, tiniest, you-would-never-know-it-was-there, hidden in plain sight, hole in the wall, historic, more stories than Hollywood could dream up, bar which is now turning into yet another Jerusalem bakery (because what the world needs now is more sufganiot), I just want to cry.

With no fanfare and no public outcry, Fink’s has closed. For those who don’t know Fink’s was a long standing Jerusalem institution. Located on HaHistadrut street for over 70 years it was the oldest and most historic bar/restaurant in West Jerusalem. Accommodating exactly 5 tables, it was quaint but commanded a grace and gravitas usually reserved for old world European establishments.

Even in a city as over-saturated with the history as Jerusalem, Fink’s had a quiet authenticity that much of the city-turned living museum has lost. There was no plaque announcing it’s famousness. Tourist groups didn’t stop there. Even many locals never knew what was there behind a non-descript brown door.

But even closed, it’s memory will continue to enchant me. During the War of Independence, it was the place where British soldiers drank while plotting against the Lehi who were sitting at the next table plotting against the British while the waiter was secretly a part of the Hagana, and the bar tender was part of the Irgun. Secrets flying, messages being covertly delivered, Plans being hatched that would ultimately lead to the creation of the Jewish State. It’s a screen writer’s wet dream.

Politcal drama continued for decades, including the legendary incident of Fink’s refusing to seat Henry Kissinger in 1975 saying that the regular customers occupying the restaurant were more important than Kissinger and his request to have the place emptied out for his entourage.

It continued to serve diplomats, politicians, journalists and local Jerusalemites until it suddenly closed recently. Harry, who knows things, tells me that the owner simply refused offers to buy it. Rumor also has it that the Israel Museum requested the whole establishment be transferred as is into its custody. But then, maybe the bakery gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Like free rugalach for life. Who knows.

Part of Fink’s mystique was that there was never much written about it, and certainly not much available online. Nonetheless, you can read a great article on Fink’s legendary waiter Yitzhak Burg here.

In any case, goodbye Fink’s. It’s a lonelier town without you. What are we going to do for intrigue now??

About the author

Laya Millman

15 Comments

  • Too bad. Tel Aviv has some old bars I like. On Ben Yehuda, awesome places, real old world Tel Aviv from the 1950’s. Is there still a bar accross from the King David Hotel? That was a nice place.

  • It turned kosher sometime recently. I never got around to trying it. Once, on the way to Pinati (a humus restaurant on the corner) I stopped and looked at the menu in the window, it was rather expensive (at least compared to a plate of humus).

    So it goes.

  • laya! it is such a sad story. mamish in the world of burgers and ruglech we need to hold on to every stronghold.
    When did they close? why nobody told me to go there while i was in Yerushalayim, huh?
    btw in that link about the waiter it says that there were six tables and not “exactly five”.
    nevertheless bar owner that puts his regular customers ahead of vips/celebrities should be given at least the nobel peace prize!

  • I walked past earlier this week and was heartbroken to see it being gutted by Shiputzers. And all so it becomes the 39th Bakery within a square mile in town? This I did not know. Pah. Clearly nothing is Sacred anymore in this “Holy” City.

  • I must agree with Michael. Pinati left me extremely underwhelmed. I know Lisa is put off by their uh… brusque manner, but I am no patrician. My loyalty belongs to Taami’s superior hummus, and my heart is warmed by their blue collar efficiency. If you wish to linger over mugs of expensive java and swank crudités while discussing Derida and the human condition, there are many establishments in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, one more homogenous and soulless than the next, to cater to you. If however, you wish only to enjoy and derive sustenance from the creamy goodness of hummus and ful, your best bet is Taami. Hands down.

  • oh guys, dot give me that hummus debate. ck! tell me where is your favourite Yerushalayim’s shawarma place?! what about you michael? sometimes i feel i gotta go down there to make sure that you guys are eating right!

  • 1. Pinati is better than Ta’ami everyday of the week.
    2. there’s great shwarma in Flafel Adir, on Emek refaim, next to Schnitzi (which is great) and Pizza Hut.

  • People who prefer Pinati to Taami are known to be manifestly unsatisfying to their women in carnal relations. It’s a proven fact.

    ybocher, you know I don’t be eatin’ that shawarma stuff. Although I hear the Black Hebrews make a fine tofu shawarma. As far as the ubiquitous falafel, I enjoy Moshiko on Ben Yehudah, both for the quality of its food and the comforting images of fat, hairy Moroccans with enormous gold Stars of David buried in the verdant forest of chest hair and their ass crack showing that the name “Moshiko” evokes. People tell me Melekh ha-Falafel v’Shawarma is better, but I dispute this mightily. I been to the mountain. I heard the word.

    And, in any case, you can always get a pita stuffed with excellent falafel, salat and hummus from Taami.

  • The best Felalfel, in the world, is the small Yeminite place almost directly accross from the Hamashbir.going towards REchov Yaffo. It’s been owned by the same family for over 30 years. If someone would like to bring me back one, I will pay them $20 for it.

  • michael! i know but i still cant believe that after such a long time spent in israel you still havent laid your chops on something better than piece of lettuce (whether deep fried or not). And your baked delicacies dont count!

  • Laya could start her own place to make up for the loss of Fink’s. It could be the Fink’s of its time. She could call it Jewlicious. She could have shakshuka. The others could help. It could have a lot of live web cams from various other parts of the Jewlicious-o-sphere.

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