Monday, 9 April 2012

Elvis is Still The King~In Israel...(Bumped)

I bumped this story from last year after seeing an article in YNet, that a tour of the Holy Land is being sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises. The Elvis Diner, or Elvis Inn as many call it has been a landmark for years, and yes, it is definitely worth a visit!. 

If you are in Israel, take the the Neve Ilan exit off the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There, situated between Tel Ha Shomer, the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, and the Christian moshav of Yad Hashmona,  is a very unique place. 

That place is The Elvis Inn. You can't miss it because in front of it stands a five meter tall golden statue of the King, that was erected in 1997. This is in addition to the statue that was erected in 1989, which, at the time, was the worlds tallest at four meters.

Recently, I tagged along when my friends David and Daniel, paid a visit to this unique cafe to learn more. By the way, (as a point of interest), David and Daniel's brother, Joshua, helped make the feet of Elvis!
Sit & Have a Coffee With the King!
In addition to shooting the video below, the guys sampled a good old fashioned Elvis Burger. Despite the heat I insisted on a coffee which is served up in mugs with a signature picture of (you guessed it) on the front. The tradition at the Elvis Inn~to this day, is that when you order a hot drink you keep the mug~and now we all have ours!

David sat down with Amir, son of owner Yuri Yoeli, to learn more about the beginnings of the Elvis Inn. The Yoeli family made Aliyah from Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). In 1974, Amir's father Yuri, and his brother Amnon, purchased what was then a truck stop called the Mountain Inn (Pundak Haharim).

Over 1,728 Pictures of The King!

Uri Yoeli had always been an Elvis Presley fan. However, when he married, he learned that his wife was not quite as fond of the King as he was.

There were two Elvis portraits in his house and his wife declared she was having none of that, and they must go. Uri took his pictures to his cafe, where they were mounted by the cash register.

The Menu

As the story goes, when Uri was in Tel Aviv one day he overheard two cab drivers planning to meet up at "The Elvis". Curious he asked for the location and was surprised to find it was his own cafe they were talking about! From that point on, the cafe became known as The Elvis Inn and the transformation back to the days of  the King of Rock-n-Roll began in earnest.

When you enter the restaurant you are  transported to the 50's.  Four life-sized Elvis statues are scattered around the premises in various poses, sitting at a table, strumming a guitar, and, in general watching over the place.

Watching Over the Booths...
The juke box plays non-stop Elvis tunes and as one gazes about you see approximately 1,728 pictures mounted on every available surface~more than half of the photos are gifts from fans and friends around the world.

With a mixture of American Diner and Israeli  dishes, there is something for everyone.

Everything is Elvis~From the menus to the souvenirs that you can buy on the way out.

The place mats are imprinted in Hebrew and English with  background and trivia (about The King, of course!) Napkins, and even the sugar packets boast the profile of the Great One--and it is very hard to deface one by opening it!
The Elvis Inn is a pilgrimage site for many, and has been host to some very famous people, including members of the American 6th fleet, Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Joe Cocker, Sting and needless to say, an untold number of Elvis Impersonators. 

On the anniversary of his birthday (08 January 1935) and his yahrzeit (16 August 1977) Elvis lovers and impersonators from across Israel and abroad, make the pilgrimage to the Elvis Inn to celebrate.

Amir told David that The Elvis Inn receives more than 5,000 letters and queries a year from around the world and there are traditions and legends galore!

Many claim that Elvis was in fact Jewish, based on his Jewelry. At one point he wore a Magen David, and he was also pictured with the letter "chay" (life) around his neck~but he also wore many other symbols including  jeweled crosses.

His great-grandmother (shown on the family tree) was said to be one fourth Jewish.

There is a rumour that Elvis was a "Shabbos Goy" for his Jewish neighbours when he was young man. He did have a fondness for Israel  that remained strong throughout his life. 

Life Size!
One famous legend tells of the massive fire of 03 July 1995. The flames raged through the Jerusalem corridor, but passed right over the Elvis Inn~many fans considered this a miracle...

       It has become a tradition is for many newlyweds to come to the Inn to be photographed sitting and standing next to the  one of the statues of the King,

Next time you are in the area, drop in for a burger and a bit of nostalgia! And don't forget to order a hot drink!

For your pleasure, here is the video from the visit to The Elvis Inn (including the kitchen). The history of the inn and some bits of trivia (about the King) is relayed to David by Amir Yoeli...Enjoy!

A Visit to The Elvis Inn (Israel)

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Israel, Jerusalem, Judaism, Zionism, Middle East, Aliyah, Conversion, and everything else that pops up