Colonizing Jerusalem's old train station

The Colony, founded a year ago, fast become a Jerusalem favorite, so much so that other bars are stationing themselves nearby.

The Colony, one of Jerusalem's premier lounge bars, is situated in what used to be an oil storage room of the old train station. These days the only fuel you'll find there are the drinks in the well-stocked bar and wine cellar, which energize Jerusalem's who's who looking for a hot night out. Founded about a year ago, the Colony has fast become a Jerusalem favorite, so much so that other bars are stationing themselves nearby, transforming the old train station into the capital's most popular bar area. "I saw this place and said I want this to be a nightlife compound," explains Adi Talmor, who opened the Colony with Naom Rizi, wine specialist and owner of Adom restaurant. At 32, Talmor is already a Jerusalem nightlife veteran, with past stakes in the Haoman 17 nightclub and currently the Layla dance bar. "I saw this that area had potential - it was open, away from the center, close to parking and full of personality." Colony certainly raises the bar, so to speak, in the Holy City, setting a world-class example for local entrepreneurs to follow. The Colony was the first building designed by architect Amir Cohen and interior designer Shelly Friman Wolf, who have created a resume-pumping structure. Colony preserves the rough, industrial space and feel of the former hangar with brick and metalwork, while adding warmth with wooden furniture and floors and stained glass windows. "We wanted a bar that would appeal to wide audiences - where everyone would feel comfortable," Talmor says. The bar is divided into four main components: a restaurant, a bar, a cushioned lounge, and the upstairs for more secluded dining. A large patio will be enclosed later this month. Despite its intention to appeal to diverse crowds, Colony has an exclusive international rather than local populist feel, and indeed its repeat patrons are foreign journalists, diplomats and Israeli government officials. Colony is often considered a slice of Tel Aviv in Jerusalem, drawing the Jerusalem branja ("in" crowd) and ex-Jerusalemites. The menu, too, is diverse, ranging from appetizers such as focaccia, liver pate, carpaccio and an array of salads to entrees that include pastas, lamb kebab, and the fish of the day. Try the mouth-watering tortellini filled with lamb. For now the Colony opens at 6 p.m. on weekdays and gets younger, darker, and more happening as the night progresses. DJs pump Colony on weekends, which get particularly packed and glamorous. Reservations are recommended. Open Sun.-Thur. at 6 p.m. ; Fri. and Sat. at noon; Derech Beit Lechem 7; (02) 672-9955