The aroma of competition

Coffee in 5 NIS (photo credit: Yossi Rosenbaum)
Coffee in 5 NIS
(photo credit: Yossi Rosenbaum)
After A five-year hiatus, Yariv Shefa, who together with his brother Sahar founded the Aroma chain of coffee shops, has decided his time out has been long enough, and has returned to take his place on the company’s board of directors.
One of the reasons behind his decision was the new challenges posed by the entry of the Cofix chain into Israel’s coffee shop market, forcing rivals to lower the price of a cup of coffee if they want to be competitive. Even before Shefa’s return to active duty, the Aroma management decided to reduce its prices, and may lower them even further to keep its share of the market.
When Aroma opened its initial branch on Hillel Street some 20 years ago, it became an instant hit – by selling more for less. Aside from charging less than other shops for coffee, it provided sumptuous plates of food at easily affordable prices. For a couple of years an Aroma breakfast was the best deal in town, because it was so plentiful that there was more than enough for two people on one plate. But there’s been a little shrinkage in quality in recent years, while prices have steadily increased.
A little over a decade ago, the company split, with Yariv taking control of Aroma Israel together with a third brother, Doron, and Sahar taking control of Aroma Tel Aviv. From a single coffee shop, the combined Aroma chain has flourished to include more than 130 branches in Israel and abroad. Some of the branches are kosher, some are not, and some are dairy, but without rabbinic approval.
THE WINNER of the adult Bible Quiz that was held last week in the Jerusalem International Convention Center was Menachem Shimshi, a father of four and an educator and researcher at the Torah Research Institute in Elon Moreh. In second place was Hananel Malcha from Or Yehuda, and Yoram Gold from Beersheba came in third. Their knowledge of the Bible was rewarded with prizes of NIS 30,000, NIS 20,000 and NIS 10,000 respectively. Prior to the final stage of the contest, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that only roots planted deeply in the past could ensure Israel’s future.
Israel’s story is a continuum, he implied, saying that while the holy Biblical text is ancient, the people of modern Israel are “writing the next chapter in the riveting story of our People.” Referring to the theme of the quiz which was “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and “the other is me,” Netanyahu added that it was imperative to break down barriers in order to achieve a sense of unity. Education Minister Shai Piron, who is an ordained rabbi, insisted that the Bible should not be regarded as a dry text but as a road map or a compass for one’s conscience.
AS A rule, the Israel Branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England meets at Beit Avi Chai, but the next meeting on Sunday, December 22, will be at Beit Harav Kook at 7 Harav Kook Street in the heart of town. Once the home and office of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, who served as rabbi of the Holy Land prior to the establishment of the state, the property has long served as a museum that perpetuates the memory of a great man who was in the forefront of religious Zionism. Rabbi Yitzhak Marmorstein, who acts as a guide at Beit Harav Kook uses story-telling and music to relate the saga of the Return to Zion from Rav Kook’s uniquely inclusive and ever optimistic perspective. Following a tour of the building, Rabbi Raymond Apple, who attends JHS meetings both as a listener and a lecturer, will present a talk on “Rav Kook in London.”
TEL AVIV Hilton executive chef Avigdor Brueh has cooked up a storm together with some of the world’s leading chefs, for food promotions of the cuisine of countries such as France, Italy and Japan.
But on Sunday, December 22, he will be embroiled in a culinary potpourri, when he is joined by Nashim Mevashlot – literally, Women Cooking – at the annual gala of the Friends of Beit Hatfutsot.
Nashim Mevashlot comprises 24 women from all over Israel, some veteran immigrants, others more recent, representing different ethnic and national backgrounds. Several of them will join Brueh in presenting their own particular specialties, so the menu will differ to a large extent from previous Hilton menus, under the title of “Flavors and Sounds, Cooking the Jewish Story.”