Cafe Aroma at the Shuk

Hey! Wanna make loads of cash? Seems like all you have to do is follow me around and wherever I live, buy up as much nearby property as possible and you are sure to make a killing. When I lived Gennevilliers it was a sleepy suburb north of Paris with a mixed North African and French population. It eventually became a great place for students and artists to live in due to it’s being serviced by both an RER and RATP line into Paris, it’s cheap rents and spacious apartments. Now it’s trendy and more expensive. My apartment in Park Slope Brooklyn was a one bedroom, close to the subway and cost $1150 a month. Now the same apartment goes for $2400 as the lesbians, students and actors have been pushed out by breeders and Wall Street assholes. The last place I lived in in Montreal was located at the intersection of old Montreal and Downtown. It was a warehouse district full of artists, DJs and new media types. My 1200 square foot loft cost $550. Canadian. When the Canadian dollar was worth 63 cents US. That same loft just sold for nearly $400,000 when the building went condo, thus ushering my move to Jerusalem and the exodus of all my interesting neighbors who were replaced by annoying mostly European condo owners, Americans and French Canadian Yuppies.

Looks like the same thing is about to happen to my current neighborhood – I live adjacent to Jerusalem’s Central Market, aka Machaneh Yehudah aka The Shuk. The Shuk’s been around for over 100 years, serving the meat, fish, fruit and vegetable needs of the residents of West Jerusalem and providing inexpensive housing for middle eastern immigrants, foreign workers and a few Haredi Jews. Of late it’s also become a bit of a cultural hub – live music every Sunday, independent cafes, fancy “foodie” stalls, several upscale restaurants and a couple of bars. This creeping gentrification accelerated greatly with this week’s opening of the newest branch of Café Aroma – a Jerusalem based coffee shop/resto with locations all across Israel and even in Greenwich Village in New York – smack dab in the heart of the Shuk.

Tahel Frosh in Haaretz wrote a great article about the reaction to the opening of Café Aroma at the Shuk:

Yael, a young native Jerusalemite who comes to the market every week, also says that in her opinion, “the arrival of the chain crossed the line. It’s something commercial in a place that’s unique. I have some civic pride, because these are guys from Jerusalem, but the market is like a nature reserve. I would have liked them to prevent the entry of such chains, so that the unique character can be preserved.” … These reactions prompt the question of whether to allow market forces to set the tone in Mahaneh Yehuda. Yoram Amir, chairman of the Mahane Yehuda market committee until 2000 and owner of a photography gallery opposite the new coffee shop, has an answer: “The market is like a kind of museum. It is the only place where a person with a tattoo and a nose ring can stand beside a religious man in a black hat and the two will get yelled at by an avocado seller… Pini Levy, who for years had a meat store in the market and then became owner of a restaurant in Jerusalem and later in Tel Aviv. He describes the market lovingly as “my childhood playground.” … “They won’t finish off the shuk. I forgive them for Aroma. The shuk is growing slowly and developing and moving in the right direction,” says Levy. But he adds, “one is enough. I hope that Cafe Hillel doesn’t run there, too.”

Oy. Time to start scoping out the last, cheap, centrally located real estate in Jerusalem. The poor can move to Sderot I guess.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Hey, ck, can you move to my part of town? I need some help on the property values so I can get a good price on my house.

  • Don’t worry, CK. That unique aroma consisting of old man sweat, garbage and cat piss is unlikely to ever leave your hallway…

  • CK – link up with an MBA and set up an investment fund. If as Muffti says you’ve got the, uh, nose for gentrification candidates – get some OPM and turn a profit on it.