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Saturday, April 18, 1998 Published at 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK

World: Middle East

Israel's latest in designer nothingness
image: [
"Waiter, there's absolutely nothing in my soup!"

An Israeli restaurant in one of the most fashionable areas of Tel Aviv has come up with a new concept to pull in the customers.

Watch people pay $5 for an empty plate of food on Real Video
Cafe Ke'ilu - or "Cafe Like" - gives its clientele the chance to enjoy all the social pleasures of going out for a meal - but without the food.

It is the ultimate poseur's paradise, according to BBC correspondent Ade Akintonwa. Cafe Like boasts the most fashionable menu ever - one with nothing on it.

Taking the idea of cafe culture to the extreme, it is a restaurant that sells style, not food. Or so say its owners.

[ image: You may laugh, but Cafe Like is doing a roaring trade]
You may laugh, but Cafe Like is doing a roaring trade
Customers can choose anything they want from the most exhaustive menu which includes everything from fried octopus to chocolate rolls in cranberry sauce - but all you will get is an empty plate.

The dubious pleasure of enjoying an invisible meal costs $5.

Ordering an after-dinner coffee gets an empty cup. Clearly for some the service is enough on its own.

[ image: Empty jars of paté add a certain ... nothing]
Empty jars of paté add a certain ... nothing
"This place is different from other places," said Ronen, a regular customer. "It sells atmosphere instead of food."

And the staff are just as enthusiatic about the restaurant's appeal.

"The place addresses people who find food interesting," said Mairev, a waitress. "People find the place visually attractive or that like the place's design."

The cafe's design is certainly quite eye-catching.

The artistic arrangement of empty wines bottles, the empty cans of liver paté and other culinary teasers are definitely original. But some passers-by thought it was all just one big joke.

"I think it is very weird," said one. "I have never seen something like this. You come here to eat nothing, you can even come to the waitress and tell her you want more and it seems very stupid."

It may seem "stupid" but after two weeks, the owners say business is booming. And there are plans for expansion.

Cafe Like is now said to be considering a take-away and delivery service.

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