Coffee, cake and an apartment to go please

TA's Scoop Cafe won't only serve you, it will also advise you on where and when to buy real estate.

coffee to go  88 (photo credit: )
coffee to go 88
(photo credit: )
There is no lack of cafes or gimmicks in the frenetic Tel Aviv scene. Tel Avivians like their espresso with almost anything: books, music, with the sea as backdrop, in the middle of the road and deep underground. Yet despite this fact, businesswoman Yaffa Golan, 64, managed to surprise them when she recently established the Scoop Cafe - a place where the waiters are professional real estate agents who have a wide variety of real estate options on offer, from rental apartments to offices. Golan, who in the 1980s managed a Bank Leumi branch in Holon, sought something to keep herself occupied in retirement, and opened a small family oriented cafe on Rehov Gordon, at the corner of Dizengoff. The place quickly attracted journalists and intellectuals, as well as business and real estate people who found in Yaffa's cafe a quiet corner where they could conduct their business. "When I saw all the deals being concluded here, I got the idea of turning the cafe into a real estate cafe, in which the waiters would also serve as real estate consultants and professional agents," says Golan. "I sent the waiters to professional courses in the area and instructed them how to advise clients, how to show apartments and close deals. At first I got some funny looks, but people quickly learned that this was more than a gimmick. It serves as a major income booster for the staff, and it's another profession that they acquire on the way. It's the type of thing about which people say, 'Now why didn't I think of that myself?' One of the waiters got so involved that he picked up and left to work for a real estate agency. I have no problem with that. I'm happy for him, and I'm sure he'll make it. I have the ability to spot those who were born agents, to nurture the up and coming real estate stars." What exactly is your advantage over real estate agencies? The hours, first of all. An agency is open five days a week, 10 hours a day. I'm open seven days a week until midnight. Second, the atmosphere here is much more pleasant than at an agency. It's a family cafe that also provides a stage for singers and jazz ensembles. It's important for me to keep my workers happy - they're like my own kids." One of Yaffa's "kids" is Gilad Pelech, who has been working at the cafe for three months. Pelech, from Had Ness on the Golan, came to Tel Aviv and fell in love with the place. He also finds the idea of waiting tables and brokering at the same time a bit strange, but he quickly came to the conclusion that it is a worthwhile combination. "I'm acquiring a profession, earning money and meeting interesting people as well." Isn't it a boring profession? "Not at all. It's a fascinating area that's only becoming even more relevant, especially in Tel Aviv. I'm familiar with the tenant's point of view. It took me a long time to find an apartment in Tel Aviv and I see how much of a demand there is here for this product." Yaffa nods her head. "Tel Aviv is the New York of young Israelis. Prices here are crazy. About a month ago I saw and apartment on Rehov Reines. It's amusing that such a place, a room and a half - 17 sq. m., is even considered an apartment. It was a run-down wreck that I wouldn't live in for free, and the owners were asking $110,000 without batting an eyelid. Why look any further? I bought this cafe a year and a half ago for $200,000. A week ago I was offered half a million dollars for it. I know how to identify, in time, in what directions the winds are blowing. Ten years ago I bought my daughters an apartment at Lev Hapark in Ra'anana for $159,000 from the plans. A year later it was already worth $250,000. I have gut feelings about real estate that never err. I have three clear rules that I pass on to my employees: * Look ahead - projects on paper cost about 25 percent less than projects that are already occupied. If the location is near an established center, and the contractor is trustworthy, then it is worth staking your money on it. * Location is more important than the actual property - a small apartment in the center will always be worth more than a large apartment on the periphery, because employment and entertainment are in the center. * Don't be afraid of renovations - a run-down apartment can be renovated. Environments and neighbors are harder to renovate." If I have $200,000 to invest in real estate, where should I put my money? Ramat Gan's Gefen neighborhood. I've been following Ramat Gan for a while now, and I see a significant growth trend there. The Gefen neighborhood is close to Tel Aviv, close to the Diamond Exchange. The neighborhood is still relatively cheap, but it won't be for long, making this the best time to invest in it."