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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.