Sometimes a day just gels, and last Thursday was just that kind of day.
First of all , it rained. In a country where it hasn’t rained in six, maybe seven months, the first rain of the season is just a big happy deal. The smell in the air, the changing color of the sky, all that dust being washed away. Later, of course, when the roof starts leaking, the cold sets in and the electricity goes out, we’ll get stressed out .But that’s later. Thursday, we rejoiced.
Then, Ten Shekel Movie Day. Who doesn’t like the movies? And who doesn’t like paying the equivalent of about $2.50 to see one? That’s a bargain by any standard. In Israel Ten Shekel Movie Day has become an annual tradition and this time it motivated me to organize an evening out with friends. We saw Sully, the movie about the pilot who landed a commercial airliner on the Hudson River in New York City. Tom Hanks starred as the pilot and who doesn’t love him?
After the movie, we had no set plans, but we all like to eat, so we just started walking until we ended up at Cafe Greg (also known as Greg Cafe) in Yishpro Center, Modi’in.
Truth is, I wasn’t going to blog about it. Cafe Greg is a nice place to go with friends, but it’s menu is pretty standard, and very similar to Cafe Landver, which I recently wrote about. But like I said, Thursday just came together. After being seated, we were greeted by our waiter, Gil. And Gil made our night.
He was friendly.
He was helpful.
He was funny.
He had good suggestions.
He kept returning to our table to check on us.
We lingered at the cafe. The rain had long since stopped and we were sitting outdoors in the cool night air. Just a bunch of friends, shooting the breeze, laughing and eating.
The food was good. Really good. We had pizza, and “tostim”–the Israeli version of Grilled Cheese. But this evening wasn’t about the food; it was about the service. It was just a pleasure to be there.
Just as we were about to order the check, Gil came over with a beautifully plated dessert. It was Greg’s ‘Belgium Cake’, a hot chocolate number served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
We didn’t order this, but he said that we were so nice he just felt like throwing in something extra. By this time, we had made friends with Gil, knew that he was 28 and single. We invited him to sit down with us. He did and revealed that he was actually one of the owners of this branch of Cafe Greg. He told us what it was like to buy a franchise business, about the risks and rewards and gave us some insight into restaurant industry. He also added that he trains and expects his staff to treat all diners the way he treated us.
I guess the point of this post is fairly obvious. It goes without saying that the food at a restaurant, it’s flavor and presentation are key. But even more important, at least for me, is the atmosphere of the place, the manner in which the meal is served, and the smile on the server’s face. This particular person, Gil, which in Hebrew aptly means joy, enhanced what turned out to be a really great day. And that makes me want to to go back to Cafe Greg.
Cafe Greg is located in Yishpro Center, on the outskirts of Modi’in. Phone number: 08-661-8800. Average price, which included a salad, sandwich or pizza–which easily can feed two–and a drink was 65 shekel (about 17 dollars at today’s exchange rate) per person.