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Grocery, Bakery and Hotel – Three Generations of Jerusalem Entrepreneurship

Adi Nemia-Cohen, Edna Assis |29/10/2021|205
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“I wanted to learn hotel management at the Tadmor Institute. My father told me, “I know that you will succeed, but remember, this is a field where everyone else has fun and you have to work, and that’s what we have done for years,” and I thought, is this really what I want to do?

The family left Diyarbakir, Turkey, and immigrated to Jerusalem on a long journey, full of hardships. Their grandfather bought a parcel of land where he established a grocery store and adjacent room where the family lived. Their father established a successful bakery; and there - in the same building that was once a grocery store, and with the pots, the stories, the names and the tastes of the bakery - the Hotel Biazi was opened, infused with Jerusalem’s spirit not just because of its location, but because of the sweet story of the family.

In 1963, two good things happened to Eliyahu Biazi: he had a daughter, and he opened his bakery. The bakery, Maadan Bakery, was in business for 30 years on Yeshayahu St. next to the legendary Edison Theater. It specialized in preparing bourekas and fancy cakes: strudel, Swiss rolls, Savarin cakes, Napoleon cakes, Berlina cakes, profiteroles and more.

We met with Mimi Sharabi Biazi, Eliyahu’s daughter, to hear about her memories from the bakery, and about the hotel she opened in Jerusalem inspired by her family’s story.

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What do you remember from your childhood in the bakery?

From the age of 6, I was already helping out in the bakery. My father would rise early - at 2:00 am - to prepare the batters. The profiteroles were very popular, and the strudel was a trademark. I remember how my father would roll the poppy seed cake dough with the poppy seeds and cut it with a knife into quarters. I would notch the dough and all the poppy seeds would pour out.

 

And that’s where you first had the idea of opening a hotel?

I had ideas and dreams about learning hotel management. My father said to me, “I know that you will succeed, but remember, this is a field where everyone else has fun and you have to work, and that’s what we have done for years,” I considered this, and understood that this was what I wanted. I studied and enjoyed every moment. After my studies, I interned and worked in well-known hotels in Jerusalem. I traveled to London, and even considered establishing my career in the hotel industry in Spain. But then my family suffered a tragedy - my brother died while serving in the police force, and I had to support my family and operate the bakery.

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After so many years, how was the idea to open your own hotel born?

I established the hotel in the house my grandfather built and where my family lived. The hotel is a combination of dreams and ideas and a place where I can showcase my talents in entrepreneurship, management, managing employees, engaging in design and art, providing services, and actually expressing love for my fellow man. The hotel is a “theme hotel” where the theme is remembering the family bakery which was active in Jerusalem for 30 years.

What guided you in opening the hotel?

I very much wanted to tell the story of Jerusalem through the hotel. The hotel sits on Kfar Bar’am Street, in the heart of the small neighborhood Shaarei Rahamim in Nachlaot next to Sacher Park. On the upper floor of the building, there is a porch which looks over Sacher Park and all of the National Government Quarter. This view, over the neighborhoods of Nachlaot and the Machane Yehuda market, is the view of my childhood and was part of my father’s entire life. Not only does Jerusalem appear in front of your eyes, but also the bakery, the life-long project of my parents, and the heart of the home in which I was raised. The hotel has 6 spacious rooms full of design features and works of art connected to the family bakery - work tools, pictures, and various cake and pastry pans, transformed into artworks decorating the hotel. As an additional tribute the rooms of the hotel were given names of beloved cakes made in the bakery: Savarin, Strudel, Berlina, Honey, Napoleon and English Cake.

(Translation by Leiah Jaffe)

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