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To reach Koala, you have to get past the delicate aroma of old cow dung on the paths leading to this new pub in the Golan farm community of Ramot. But hey, manure actually smells quite pleasant compared to city sewage, alleyway urine or post-party puke found near bars in Tel Aviv.
Part of Koala's charm is that it's a pub built on the ruins of a cow shed in the heart of a tzimmer (country lodge) town. Now that the cow barn has fallen into disuse, and renting tzimmers has overtaken agriculture as the main source of Ramot's bread and butter, a young couple has decided to exchange milk pumps for draft beer.
"We felt that a 'good times' neighborhood pub was lacking," said Moria Katz, 24. So Katz founded the Koala bar-bistro with her fianc , 27-year-old Tomer Shafir, whose parents were among the founders of Ramot and therefore had the pick of locales. His family's cow farm was on a hill at the edge of the Kinneret, and the pub's large windows now capture that view. It's only a shame that the water is invisible at night.
The pub was a family endeavor; Katz and Shafir designed and built the woodwork and ironwork, the rectangular central bar and the pub's dozens of wooden tables, which are set sufficiently far apart to give each diner a comfortable amount of space. The pair view this pub as their first baby, and as a way to contribute to the community, which has 180 lodges for rent.
"There were no services for the tzimmerim," said Katz, who has witnessed the growth of the tzimmer industry in the past two years. "People need a break from their Jacuzzi."
It seems that, for now, this cozy, homy addition to the chill rural northern nightlife is geared toward both locals and visitors to the region.
Right outside the pub is a large grassy area for outdoor parties, summer seating and other events - it's just a matter of getting past the quaint outdoor smell.
Koala Bar-Bistro-Caf ; Hours: from 6 p.m. daily; Ramot, the Golan Heights. Tel: (04) 679-5095 Music: Classic rock, chill-out, reggae.