Acre restaurateur and hotelier Uri Jeremias reopens his historic Efendi hotel on September 1, three months after rioters torched the boutique 12-room establishment.
Jeremias’ famous fish restaurant Uri Buri in Acre’s old town was also set on fire during days of Judeo-Arab violence in May. While Jeremias quickly opened a Uri Buri pop-up next door, renovations to the original space will take another two months, he estimated.
“It’s important to us that people know that we are open, both for Acre and for the company,” Jeremias said. “My first thought was how to protect our people – they are the most valuable part of this business. I had to find a way to keep them employed, pay them, and repair the damage. “
There were other losses, greater than the destruction of Jeremias’ beloved businesses.
Israel Prize winner Aby Har-Even, former head of the country’s space program, was a guest at the EFENDi at the time and later died from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
“Everything else was minor compared to his death,” Jeremias said. “What you can fix with money, you fix and move on. But you can’t move on, and I haven’t recovered.
Jeremias’ regular clientele went to eat at the pop-up, as well as newbies who wanted to support him and the restaurant. Acre Restaurant, famous for its seafood and fish menu, was named one of the top 25 “World’s Best Fine Dining Restaurants” in the 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards.
“It works, even with the Green Passport and the coronavirus,” he said, referring to government regulations banning unvaccinated people without testing or proof of recovery at some facilities. “Our restaurant staff and hotel staff work there, Jews and Arabs together. “
Acre was a flashpoint of ethnic tensions that spilled over in May amid nationwide riots and war with Gaza-based terrorists. More than a dozen Jewish-owned businesses have been vandalized, including Uri Buri, which was almost completely destroyed. The Efendi was also set on fire and parts of its interiors were destroyed and destroyed.
The restaurant and hotel are both housed in iconic buildings, representing 1,500 years of history. Uri Buri is housed in a restored 400-year-old Ottoman-era residence overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, while the Efendi are two original Ottoman buildings with a Byzantine and Crusader-era cellar.
“It’s priceless,” said Jeremias, whose hotel was voted # 1 “Best Small Hotel in the Middle East” in TripAdvisor’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards. “I was the first person to open this type of establishment in Acre.”
Like many, Jeremias was saddened by the violence, but assumes the intention was to strike at the very symbols of Acre’s racially-dependent gentrification process.
“That’s why we felt the need to pick ourselves up,” he said. “We need to be able to deliver what we have to our customers and to those who earn their income from us. There is no revenge or anger. What is important is to learn where it came from and how to make changes.