Restobar, a popular cafe that has been operating in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood for the past eight years, was forced to shut down on Monday after the building's landlord demanded that the cafe close on Saturdays (Shabbat) and stop serving non-kosher food.
The owners of Restobar, Shahar and Avigail Levy, wrote on Restobar's Facebook page on Monday that "since opening our business in [Jerusalem], we have been successfully fighting for the right to live a secular lifestyle in our home city. With the draconian limitation placed on us by the landlord, it was clear that we couldn't operate the restaurant in this way."
Ofer Berkowitz, the head of Jerusalem's Awakening movement, said, "The closure of Restobar, an important secular Jerusalem institution, requires Awakening to take a stand and act on the matter. In Jerusalem, there is a true need for more leisure spots to be open on Shabbat and not the closure of existing spots."
Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol said, "We can't agree to secular residents of the city getting less access to public space."
In response to the closure, the Jerusalem municipality said, "In Jerusalem, there are many private places that are open on Shabbat. Restobar is a private business and the municipality clearly can't force a private landlord to open a place he owns against his will on Shabbat. Meanwhile, the municipality's finance committee approved yesterday tens of thousands of shekels for cultural events on Shabbat throughout the city and a variety of events are held in Jerusalem on Shabbat by many groups."
Restobar is also known for taking over the premises from the Moment Cafe, the sight of a horrific terrorist bombing on March 9, 2002, in which 11 civilians were killed and 54 wounded.