Before Mike's Place was Mike's Place (that's the original one in Jerusalem
, that is), it was Tiffany's
. It was an incredibly pretentious attempt at a high-end
kind of place in the centre of Jerusalem's publand, full of dark wood furniture and expensive brandies. I was 18, maybe 19 back then and of course I loved it - but it never stood a chance. It was situated in a tiny cubbyhole
below street level with room for maybe 15 people, and nobody in Jerusalem drank worth a damn back then. So it flopped, and Mike happened to it.
When he took it over, Mike didn't change a thing, except putting the most lurid neon sign you can imagine in the window - the name of the pub, plus a big red neon rose. For a while he tried to maintain the upmarket pretentions of the joint, serving swanky coffees and expensive import beer, but gradually the Mike continuum took over and the place took on the slightly grubby, permanently hung over patina of its owner - a serious drinker and the first person I'd ever met who did cocaine. I practically lived in the place for about a year.
Eventually I got into a major row with Mike because I thumped a drunk Australian who was feeling my bum. Mike sided with the Australian, so I took off in a huff and vowed never to come back. About a year later, Mike met me in another Jerusalem institution, The Mad Hatter pub, and bought me a bottle of wine to, as he put it, "bury the hatchet". Just as I was getting ready to grace his dive with my shining presence again, he vanished. I later heard that he left considerable debts behind, but then I wouldn't have expected any less from the guy.
What Mike's Place is now is not what it used to be. I know the teenage backpackers who hang there think it's always been this bluesy, Indian-shirt, friendship bracelet, hiking-sandal kind of place, but they're about as old as my jeans and what do they know?
It used to be different. Now it's a chain, dammit, and has a .com website. And the Mad Hatter closed, too. Good job I've left the country.
For the record, I've never been to any of the other Mike's Place bars - and I haven't been to the original one in maybe 8 years. So don't think I'm telling you it's not worth a visit, cause it might be. Certainly if you're a terrorist attack memorabilia hound (they do happen - anything has its tourists).