(HAARETZ) — The staff at the new Landwer Cafe that opened in Jerusalem’s old railway station compound braced for an influx of customers on its first Saturday in business by beefing up staff and stocking up on extra materials.
Thousands of people came to ride bicycles on the sparkling new bike path and eat in the newly renovated compound of the city’s 19th-century train station, now transformed into a cultural and culinary complex.
“I ordered 20 percent more merchandise,” says Elav Kislasi, Landwer Cafe’s owner.
He should have ordered even more. By 4:30 P.M. on Saturday afternoon, with the cafe packed solid and customers still queuing up outside for a table, the very last lettuce leaf was gone.
The kitchen dispatched a worker to hunt down more lettuce, which is no simple feat in Sabbath-observant Jerusalem.
It’s incredibly rare to see so many people publicly desecrating the Sabbath in Jerusalem, where most businesses shut down at sunset on Friday and streets are quiet until nightfall the following day. Secular Jerusalemites have hailed the new complex at the station as a breakthrough that will revolutionize Saturdays in Israel’s capital city. The ultra-Orthodox, however, are threatening to demonstrate until at least some of the activity is stopped.