Tomer Moore, owner of Café Jeremiah and founder & CEO of Restaurants Stronger Together.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hundreds of Tel Aviv’s popular restaurants are set to shut their doors to tourists and a lucrative payday on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest in protest over what they consider to be over-taxation of the industry.
While thousands of tourists are expected to descend on Tel Aviv in May to join the festivities and enjoy the city’s renowned culinary scene, more than 350 restaurants inside and also outside the city have already announced that they will be closing their doors. More than a thousand restaurants and cafes are expected to remain shut as restaurateurs are increasingly backing the move.
The strike is being led by “Restaurants Stronger Together” (RST) a grassroots, industry-led nonprofit with over a thousand members who are aiming to unite all of the sector’s restaurant owners and employees.
Leading restaurants that have already announced their support include the R2M group (Bakery, Brasserie, Herzl 16, Delicatessen and more), Hotel Montefiore, Da Da & Da, Lachmanina, Landwer Cafe and Cafe Nordoy.
“We are in a fight against the government and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to improve the situation of the restaurant industry,” Tomer Moore, owner of Café Jeremiah and founder & CEO of RST, told The Jerusalem Post.
“We aren’t requesting money from the government, but rather assistance in the reduction of over-taxation. Unfortunately, we have met comprehensive opposition to all of our requests. We have been forced to take drastic steps that harm us, but we have no choice.”
The organizations aim to cancel the taxation on tips, as well as the retroactive assessment of the employment of foreign workers, grant work permits for cooks and cleaners, and for permanent restaurant industry representation in government.
On Wednesday, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai met with local restaurant and bar owners to announce a range of measures easing regulations on the industry during the week of the contest.
From May 11 to 19, the municipality will reduce the hours when night-time noise is banned. In the city’s primary nightlife areas, loud music will be permitted until midnight. In the “Eurovision Park,” noise will be allowed until 1 a.m. Regulations will be eased even further on the evenings of the Eurovision semi-final and final.
In addition, the municipality will permit the placement of beer dispensers and television screens in outdoor areas belonging to the establishments.
“I am aware of the difficulties that the restaurant and bar industry is dealing with,” said Huldai. “The loading of unnecessary taxes on the backs of restaurateurs is scandalous and imposing the levy on foreign workers is irresponsible... You will decide as you see fit regarding your justified statements of protest.”
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