Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tel Aviv's Hidden Business World: Financial Services

AIG is a large retail insurance in Israel, also runs financial operations unrelated to Israel

Would you be surprised to see a large American financial company with 200 employees in the middle of Tel Aviv? Would it be more surprising to hear what they do: the same work as similar workers are doing in New York, London, Shanghai or Berlin? Managing mutual fund portfolios, supporting customers in the US, researching markets (opportunities), analyzing and advising on economic trends, essentially whatever financial workers are doing anywhere. The trend to open a dedicated operation or a department in the financial sector is not new here. What is new is how people make the transition from Paris, London and Sidney to Tel Aviv. In the past a move to Israel was not advised to the faint of heart. Today Tel Aviv's status as a global city similar in character to most European ones is accepted by many. This change is what drives mostly American financial companies to open work centers here. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bread Story: Continues to Bake it Good

Bread Story on a typical weekday evening, still attracting eager sandwich seekers

Bread Story is a bakery / restaurant a block north of Dizengoff center. I noticed this place over two years ago when this location changed ownership. The combination of location and food makes for a successful combination. Freshly baked bread, in French and Italian style, are the base of most dishes. They are combined with salads, a burger, bread bowls (shakshuka, eggs Benedict) and a dozen sandwiches. The location is convenient and the staff gives off a casual carefree air  (88 Dizengoff, Tel Aviv 03-5283888).

Cheap Thrills: Luxury at a Low Price

Cofix site sends a "young and fresh" message, yet offers economy instead
Israelis seem to be a bit schizophrenic about luxury and economy. They want quality products and services, but don't want to spend the extra money. There are some who are still looking for what we describe as a great deal, something of quality at a low price. A few years back it was called the "Subaru Mercedes effect" A car buyer wants a Mercedes but can only afford a Subaru (in the 1980s, the most popular Japanese economy car). Just two years ago, a coffee chain called Cofix, came out with 5 shekel (NIS) coffee. Real Colombian premium coffee, in a small cup, made with an Italian espresso/cappuccino coffee machine for about one half to one third compare to the competition. There was buzz about the idea, complaints about the horrendous cost of a cup of coffee (up to 16 shekels, about US$ 4) and predictions about the length of time the chain will stay in business. Flash forward two years and Cofix is going strong and even opened an economy supermarket location in Tel Aviv. As in the coffee shops: everything for 5 shekels. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Preparation for Gay Pride Tel Aviv

Gay Pride site, Tel Aviv municipality: the events include a parade and a fair
At one time, Tel Aviv was considered THE destination for gays to vacation. From Scandinavia and Germany, to Turkey and Egypt, they came. Especially in the summer months. From countries less tolerant to public display of affection (holding hands to kissing) to countries where the weather simply did not make walking on a summer evening a pleasant experience. The image of Tel Aviv as a gay vacation destination has faded. But the tolerance and acceptance is continuing to grow. Tel Aviv certainly is not going to be the "escape" city San Francisco served in the 1980s, but it is considered the most likely place a gay couple will choose to live and work. This weekend, June 12, there will be a gay pride parade and an event at the Charles Chlor park on the beach. 4 short links:

    Gay Tel Aviv guide    ||     Ha'aretz event schedule    ||    Facebook Parade    ||    JPost Article

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hebrew Book Fair: Once Again Crowded & Alive

Hebrew book week banner, 2015
Heading from the book organization sponsoring the events (June 2015)
A few years back I wrote about the Hebrew Book Fair. At first all the foreign language books translated into Hebrew seemed like a drawback. English speakers usually don't seem to think of books from other cultures. If it's not translated, it's probably not worth a read (I was told this by a humanities student back in college - Philadelphia PA 1970s). But this is not the case in Israel. One sign of vitality is both translation and innovation. In the translation area I am happy to see tremendous growth. In genres like mystery, science fiction and health (especially food & diet) there are many new translations. The delay between a publication in English (or French, Spanish or Japanese) and Hebrew is between one to two years. This phenomena is refereed to the "two year gap" between what is popular in Israel and the rest of the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Frankie Nany's Monthly Moon Shot - June Moon

June is here with it's heat and clear skies. Once again Frankie Nanny is capturing a great big moon over north Tel Aviv skyline.


Truck De-Luxe - New Meat Bar-Rest - Lost in Translation

Truck De-Luxe, a new "mostly meat" joint opened just off Dizengoff circle (Ben Ami 11) recently. A review in the JPost last week got us interested. The location is a bit off-the-beaten-track. The menu resembles (or tries to imitate) 60s to 70s American greasy spoon truck stop, with a burger named "trailer trash".  But other than the American theme, the limited menu and overall result misses in a big way. This joint is getting a low rating with "lost in translation" label. For all three diners, the portions were small, service fair and overall cooking and presentation below the average for a central Tel Aviv bar-resto. #TelAviv #Burgers #DiningOut