Neri Avnery (Nargila): A Journey Through Yemeni Cuisine

Neri Avnery (Nargila): A Journey Through Yemeni Cuisine -

Nargila was a chain of Yemeni restaurants in Israel owned by Neri Avnery, operating during the 1980s and 1990s.


In 1983, Neri Avnery opened the first restaurant at the corner of Ben Yehuda and Jabotinsky Streets in Tel Aviv. His mother, Shoshana Saada, served as the head chef. Traditional Yemeni dishes such as malawach, jachnun, and marak regel (foot soup) were on the menu, along with innovative dishes like "Zivah," a pastry filled with yellow cheese, named after Avnery's wife, who was also the restaurant's manager.

After a year of operation, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality issued a closure order for the restaurant due to a lack of a business license. It reopened at the corner of Ibn Gabirol Street and King David Boulevard. This new restaurant enjoyed significant success compared to its predecessor.

Avnery introduced a provocative menu that included nude women images, jokes, and risqué stories. Following the introduction of these new menu items, Avnery's mother resigned from the restaurant.

Due to the restaurant's success, Avnery opened additional branches, some of which were operated by franchisees. At its peak, the chain had 22 branches.

However, in the mid-1990s, the chain faced difficulties. Avnery sold it to the Acotel Group, owned by businessman Joe Almaliah, who, in turn, sold it to Kobi Maimon.

Despite these transitions, the chain could not recover from its troubles, and its branches closed. After merging with the Bistop food chain, it was sold in 2002 to Shimon Dehan for a nominal sum of 101 shekels.

In 2013, Neri Avnery reopened Nargila restaurant on Karlibach Street, in the location where one of the chain's branches used to operate. However, it closed shortly thereafter.

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