Two places in Jerusalem you should definitely avoid. One of the two places just went bankrupt and doesn’t even exist anymore.
Last Wednesday I went to the Natural Choice Bakery at the Machane Yehudah Market and bought a small chocolate bagel. I know the bakery very well due to some personal experience. Until a couple of years ago, the place was kept, more or less, clean. For the past four years or so, the Natural Choice Bakery shop is nothing but dirty. Dirty windows, a disgusting toilet, dirty counters and displays and mold next to the shelf where the fresh bread is laying. When I spoke to the manager some time ago and complained about filthy counters, he stated that they concentrate on selling and not on keeping the place clean. The Ministry of Healthy is showing up for checks a few times a year. However, they always announce this in advance, as otherwise, the bakery would be shut down.
About three weeks ago, I was also buying something small and I was sitting down at the little table inside the shop. The wooden table was dirty and sticky. I had to pay attention not to lean on anything. Last Wednesday, however, I sat down to eat the bagel and the table was filthy again. I am not even sure whether it is being cleaned at all. Right afterwards, my stomach went wild and when I got home I felt like throwing up. Maybe due to some bacteria or I don’t know. I just know that the bagel tray was kept just above the bakery floor.
The Natural Choice has already lost a lot of customers to the popular bakery Teller just further down the road. I also buy my bread from Teller because it is tasty and the place is kept clean. Furthermore, Teller is selling all it’s bread loaves, rolls and croissants for a 50 % discount every evening at 6 pm. The Natural Choice, on the other hand, keeps the biscuits on the trays for weeks. Bread loaves and bagels are sold cheaper the next day.
After eating the bagel and feeling sick, I hardly made it to work on Thursday and I still felt sick until last night. I am not going to buy anything else at the Natural Choice as long as the place is filthy.
Across the Natural Choice in Agrippas Street, the famous restaurant Topolino just went bankrupt. It was run by an elderly couple and they served homemade noodles and Italian foods. As soon as it opened about eight years ago, the Topolino succeeded. However, the place was expensive and the portions were small. The female owner was running around with her nose up in the air and expected red-carpet treatment in the market when she showed up to buy ingredients. What she didn’t want in her restaurant were frum Jews, young people and couples with children. Once I saw when she told a haredi couple to go to another restaurant but not to the Topolino. What they wanted were elderly couples with lots of money.
I was inside the Topolino once and this was enough. The reason was that a friend of mine invited me because it was my birthday. The female owner told us to hurry, as the table was reserved. However, my friend paid 300 Shekels but we still had to finish eating within 40 minutes or so.
The Topolino started going down the drain when the two owners announced that they don’t want any more Mashgiach from the Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) to come. They said that now they start their own Hechsher and don’t need the Rabbanut. Just recently I read that the Topolino started serving meat and dairy without any supervision.
Now the Topolino closed and the official reason is the tense security situation in Jerusalem. I don’t really believe this, as no other place in the market went bust. On the contrary, as Cafe Aroma, nearby Cofix and all the other bars and restaurants are always packed. The Topolino made the big mistake to underestimate the new competitors inside the Machane Yehudah Market. New modern places such as Basta Pasta which also makes it’s own noodles and holds a Hechsher. The same with nearby Fish & Chips as well as other places. In the end, the Topolino was too expensive and the female owner not welcoming.
The couple now is planning to open a new Topolino in Tel Aviv. But the city at the coast is packed with good restaurants and the Topolino will even face more competition than before at the Machane Yehudah Market.