Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

July 3, 2014 10:08 am 14 comments

Customers outside the Cofizz store on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. Photo: Cofizz.

JNS.org Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels.

There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea.

Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where those running a chain called Cofix keep busy feeding the local populace with all kinds of equally inexpensive fare.

“It worked there, so we thought, why not here?” says Mizrahi. “But here in Jerusalem being kosher is a very important thing.” Appropriately, then, Cofizz adheres to the high Israeli kosher standards of Mahadrin and, in several locations, Badatz.

Visitors to Jerusalem can keep their eyes peeled for the telltale bright red Cofizz signs sprouting up around town this year. In January, the partners rolled out their first Cofizz at 14 Ben Yehuda Street and now have added two more on Jaffa Street, just steps from the light rail.

The emergence of Cofizz’s cheap eats is music to the ears of Jerusalemites, who this year are looking at average rents for three-bedroom apartments—the typical choice for families—of 4,633 shekels ($1,351) outside the city center and 7,332 shekels ($2,135) inside. Average salaries for Jerusalem residents, meanwhile, hover just above the 6,000-shekel ($1,750) per month level.

“We are in this business not only to make money,” Mizrahi says. “We also want to help people make it.”

By July, Mizrahi and Amshalm are planning on opening locations in the Machane Yehuda market (otherwise known as the “shuk”), and other sites are planned for Haifa, Rehovot, and Kfar Saba. “We are projecting a total of nine [stores] by mid-summer,” says Mizrahi. “But 50 is really our [long-term] number.”

Mizrahi, who says he doesn’t “like to see people paying 100 shekels for coffee and a sandwich,” says that “everyone comes to us, lawyers and office workers, everybody.”

Based on a recent visit to the Ben Yehuda Street location, Cofizz customers applaud the idea of 5-shekel dining, but enjoy more than just the price.

“It’s cheap,” says Jane Bizan, who lives and works nearby. “But it’s not just the prices. The fresh orange juice is really good and so is the Bulgarian cheese sandwich.” Standing in line behind Bizan was another Jerusalemite, Eran Karnicli, who after thinking it over for a second or two says, “For your money, you do get good value and the service is very good too.”

Also on the menu—which notes the 5-shekel price in red after each item, despite the lack other prices—is a variety sandwiches, such as the internationally beloved focaccia in a choice of four different flavors. There are no less than 10 different types of coffee, including espresso, frappuccino, and Americano. But of all the coffees, it’s the cappuccino that’s the runaway favorite at the Ben Yehuda site of Cofizz, according to a server there named Lilach. And the most popular lunch fare? The veggie focaccia, she reports, handily beating out the tuna sandwich.

At these prices, how can Mizrahi and Amshalm even hope to turn a profit?

“Oh, we do make money,” Mizrahi says with a laugh. “We serve 3,000 people a day and on Ben Yehuda, 4,000, so we buy everything in bulk.”

The store is also extremely accessible, opening with the birds at 6 a.m., serving until 11 p.m. most nights, and back in business on Saturday night after Shabbat ends—when there are already scores of customers in line.

“I can get a sandwich and an iced coffee for 10 shekels,” Navah Bargeva, one of the self-proclaimed Cofizz regulars, says with a smile. “That’s so much better than anywhere else.”

14 Comments

  • Maybe I’m missing something. I know by today’s standards 10 Sh or $2.50 seems like small change. But if one earns under $2,000 a month and rent is way up there, then why not make a lunch and take a thermos? Or taking turns with co-workers?
    This Cofizz chain reminds me of Chock Full of Nuts where I bought a cream cheese and raisin sandwich.

  • KOSHER BLESSED FOOD BELONGS TO GOD AND INCLUDES GOD.

  • Kol hakavod lakhem, Dani ve’Amir. Israeli people need a break in the cost of living. I don’t know how they make it, and I know that they suffer in silence. I can’t wait to try your menu on my next trip to Israel, around souccoth.
    Be’atzlachah

  • Talk about Jewish know how. My hats are off to you. Here in the states 5 shekels will get you nothing but grease loaded grease. They used to have the Macdonald’s $1.00 meal but that was years ago and I don’t go so I can’t say. Besides you can’t get kosher at a MacDonald’s. To get reasonably healthy food that you offer for 5 shekels and maybe 10 if you’re really hungry is unheard of in the US. Although this is not a wedding toast, and my spelling might be off all I can think to say is l’chaim!

  • Mazel Tov from America. Oooh I would love a Bulgarian cheese sandwich right now. Keep up the conscious business practices that is what makes us Jews, we think,we share and we love to eat.

  • Marion Shuman

    I whish Ya’ll lots of luck in Your business adventure. Ya’ll are doing a real Mitzvah.

  • Kudos to them for keeping affordable prices. They will earn good money from a large clientele. May they continue to flourish and thrive.

  • Good luck & bonne appétit for all, keep up thé good deeds,

  • I wish they adhered not only to standards of Kashrut, but of ethical eating. Please offer some vegan options! We couldn’t even get the coffee because it’s pre-mixed with cow’s milk, which is obtained from cows who are cruelly confined and their calves taken from them so humans can take the milk!

    • if you don’t even eat dairy products, what’s the point? you can get a plate of grass anywhere for 5 shekels. but wait, someone has to kill that grass…

    • vegan,smegan! Stop trying to pollute the world with your veggie burger eating nonsense. Ethical eating? What a load of nonsense. Cows produce mehtane which adds to the other myth of “global warming”.

      Go and eat a burger……..

    • It’s fine if you prefer to be vegan. But in this instance I think you should just stay home and make your own food.

    • “Ethical eating” ? So eating according to Torah law is not “ethical” ? Rather than expecting these noble people to cater to your expensive whims, you should concern yourself more with poor working people who need healthy and inexpensive fast food

  • I am a CAMEROONIAN ,one man band,acoustic guitar player and sing in different languages across the world including Jewish. I am based in LAGOS ,NIGERIA,presently performing in five star restaurants like yours.
    I want sponsorship to relocate to JERUSALEM ,to perform in your restaurants and experience the city of Nazareth where our precious lord was born and lived. I have no money to travel.
    Please can someone out there help me to do just that. Here in NIGERIA people are not paying me well for my entertainment, even though I am the only drug free musician in the world been given a diplomatic international award from a performance at the D.E.A./U.S.A..department of
    Justice from 1995 till today. My cellphone: +2348033185208.

    My sincere regards!
    CHARLES TCHAMOKOUIN aka CHARLY WON MAN SHOW INTERNATIONAL.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →