You don't have to be on the tour of the Holy Land sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises to visit the Elvis Diner. You can follow the link to YNet to read about the upcoming tour, however, if you are already here or planning a trip, simply take the the Neve Ilan exit off the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and there, situated between the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, and the Christian moshav of Yad Hashmona, is a very unique place, where fans of the King of Rock 'n Roll gather.
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 1989 statue that, at the time, was the worlds tallest at four meters.
Recently David and Daniel paid a visit to this unique cafe. In addition to the video below, they sampled a good old fashioned Elvis Burger. As a point of interest, David and Daniel's brother Joshua, helped make the feet of Elvis!
David sat down with Amir, son of the owner, Yuri Yoeli to learn more about the beginnings of the Elvis Inn. Together with his brother Amnon, Yuri purchased what was then a truck stop called the Mountain Inn (Pundak Haharim) in 1974. Uri Yoeli had always been an Elvis Presley fan. However, when he married, he found 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 would not have them and they must go. Uri took his pictures to his cafe and mounted them by the cash register.
As the story goes, when Uri was in Tel Aviv one day he overheard two cab drivers planning to meet up at "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 rock-n-roll began in earnest.
When you enter the restaurant it is like being 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. 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.
The food is a mixture of Israeli and American with something for everyone. Everything in the place is Elvis. From the menus to the souvenirs that you can buy on the way out. Packets of sugar boast the profile of the Great One--and it is very hard to deface them by opening them!
Even the coffee mugs have a picture of...you guessed it! To this day if you order a hot drink you keep the mug. We all have ours!
The Elvis Inn is a pilgrimage site for many people. Some of those include the American 6th fleet, Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Joe Cocker, Sting and a host of Elvis impersonators.
On the anniversary of his birthday (08 January 1935) or his yahrzeit (16 August 1977) Elvis lovers and impersonators from across Israel and abroad, make a pilgrimage to the Elvis Inn to celebrate.
The Inn receives more than 5,000 letters and queries a year from around the world and there are traditions and legends galore! One such tradition 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 for newlyweds to come to the Inn to be photographed next to the King, Rumour even has it that Elvis was a "Shabbos Goy" for his Jewish neighbours when he was young man and his ties to Israel remained strong.
Next time you are in the area, drop in for a burger and a bit of nostalgia!
For your pleasure, here is the video from the visit to the Elvis Inn and the story as told by Amir Yoeli, about this amazing landmark...Enjoy!