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The Israeli cafe chain Aroma opens the doors to its first international branch this weekend, on Wooster Street in New York's trendy Soho district.
"The opening of our New York branch is a major turning point," said Noam Berman, Aroma's VP and marketing director. "It is the beginning of a global expansion, and the first step in turning Aroma Espresso Bar into an international franchise."
"I believe that we have a different style to our competition here," said Berman when asked how Aroma would fair against existing coffee shops such as Starbucks. "We have worked hard to develop our style, the coffee is gourmet and the food is all fresh and healthy. Starbucks does not have a kitchen, they serve mostly ready made cakes.
"I think our concept - fast food but with an elegant, healthy and sophisticated presentation - will give us the edge. The new branch looks good and we are in a fine location.
"I know a lot of Israelis and native New York Jews who will be happy to be reminded of the very best of Israel the moment they walk through our front door," said Berman.
According to a spokesperson for the company, plans are being finalized to open Aroma branches in Toronto and in additional US locations.
"Many Jews who have visited Israel in recent years, myself included, became overnight Aroma fans and are excited about the opportunity to enjoy the great food, service, atmosphere and coffee here in New York as well," said David Semanoff, copresident of the Gesher Israel Club at New York University, which is near the new Aroma location.
"I'm also thrilled by the chance to continue to 'buy Israeli' even as I relax over a great cup of coffee," he said.
Aroma's first branch opened on Jerusalem's Rehov Hillel more than a decade ago. Today the rapidly growing chain boasts 72 locations countrywide, and was recently named Israel's "best coffee chain" by Globes.
Aroma is temporarily bringing 15 Israeli employees to New York to staff the new store and train local staff.