Night Shift, a trendy Tel Aviv bar, was open for many years on Shabbat and catered to the secular community in the Florentin neighborhood. Gabi Geuli, the owner of the bar, decided recently to make the bar kosher and close on Shabbat. Geuli told Arutz Sheva about the remarkable growth he had experienced despite closing on the day which brought the most revenue and despite scathing criticism from patrons.
“The place has existed for 13 years. I established it with a partner and we were open seven days a week from the beginning. My current partner, Tami Shlush, is the owner of the property. He is not religious but always pushed for a kosher supervision. I wasn’t ready for it but he always said that if you close on Shabbos I will give you a reduction on rent.
“Over the last six years I have become more religious. I started with Tefillin and then a few shiurim and other things. At some point I stopped working on Shabbat but I was still afraid to close the place on Shabbos, which represented 30% of the turnover, it really scared me. Even though I wanted to and my rabbi explained to me [the need to close] and we went to Rabbi Chaim Kanievski and he gave me a blessing. I used to say that if I get to such and such a turnover I will close but whenever I reached it I couldn’t bring myself to do it and continued working. It was during the coronavirus that the owner of the property became my partner and we decided to close on Shabbos.”
Despite Geuli’s decision to close on Shabbos and waive 30% of his revenue, it was precisely after he took kashrus supervision and closed on Shabbos that his revenue began to grow. “I can truly say that in work I see miracles,” he said. “I don’t even know how to explain it but the turnover rose and is now more than it was before. Don’t tell me it was because of religious customers, there aren’t many but still things have grown.”
Geuli received a number of negative responses to his move. “Sometimes a person comes and the hostess tells him that we are kosher and he says jokingly ‘I don’t eat kosher’. Sometimes we put up a post and then somebody says ‘I used to sit with you but now now I won’t sit'”. Others have called to boycott the bar, which really hurt Geuli: “Why boycott? I didn’t tell people to wash their hands. Most people are positive. Even secular clients and businessmen tell me they wish that they could close on Friday night. People want to be with their families.
However in the wake of the call for a boycott, Geuli received a lot of support. “I just received nearly fifty whatsapp messages from private people who told me I was sanctifying G-d’s name and strengthened me.