The scene is familiar: a good selection of brews on tap, a noisy crowd, and a jam session up on stage. Mikes Place in Tel Aviv is known for its host of good times, and is a beloved favorite of foreigners, locals, tourists and expats alike. Right across the street is the beach.
The original Mikes Place is located in Jerusalem, and was founded by Mike Viggoda in 1993. Mike wanted to provide a "living room" atmosphere where patrons could kick back and relax, and more importantly, put politics aside. Additionally, live entertainment became a fixture, and was provided free without cover.
In 1995, a bar regular, Assaf Ganzman took over when Mike returned home to Canada. His brother, Gal, opened Mikes Place Tel Aviv in 2001, which to date offers a similar vibe as its precursor.
The suicide bomber attacked the bar on April 30, 2003. It was a typically crowded night, and while the aftermath is nonetheless horrifying, security guard Avi Tabib had prevented further injuries and deaths when he blocked the bomber at the entrance.
Just one week later, on the Israeli Independence Day, the bar reopened. In true Israeli spirit, the mourning gave way to celebration. The victims' lives were commemorated in a memorial attended by hundreds. Since the terrorist event, Mikes Place Tel Aviv has set up a Life After Terror fund in order to assist wounded patrons and their families.
Today, the bar still provides free music and great drinks, and people from many different backgrounds put their differences aside to enjoy the atmosphere. Mikes Place in Tel Aviv serves to celebrate freedom and provide an oasis from the day-to-day chaos.