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Restaurants are a tough business in Israel. Optimistic estimates are that only 20% achieve true success. That is why the guiding principle has become: don't compete, collaborate.
This is reflected in the slew of festivals that now take place every year, for which restaurants band together - either by region or theme - to offer special meals at a fixed, attractive price. The shared publicity often brings in new diners and puts establishments on the map.
The festival that started it all, "Gourmet Week," takes place for the fourth year February 26 to March 4. As part of the festival, over 80 restaurants all over Israel will offer a three-course meal for NIS 89.
Gourmet Week is the brainchild of Rotem Dauber of Taltal Initiatives, who discovered the concept in New York and adapted it to the local scene.
"I started it in the winter of 2002," Dauber explains. "It was the middle of the big recession and all the restaurants were eager to get some work. I took advantage of the situation, and now it's become really big."
Gourmet Week first started with 60 participating restaurants in Tel Aviv only. Now it includes restaurants, gourmet and non-gourmet, in Jerusalem, Rishon Lezion, Nes Tziona, Haifa, Zichron Ya'akov, kibbutzim and farms.
This year, menus will reflect various trends, including the rise of the gourmet hamburger, the growth of fine dining outside Tel Aviv, and kosher gourmet.
Some prominent participating restaurants include Odeon (Tel Aviv), Lilit (Tel Aviv - kosher), Nanotchka (Tel Aviv), Tahel (Tel Aviv), Pastis (Tel Aviv), Ad Ha'Etzem (Herzliya) and Ahuzat Halperin (Beersheba).
For a full list, visit www.rest.co.il.
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