A pair of Palestinian twins have high hopes for their business venture. The two brothers, Atallah and Khamis al-Sairafi, have bought a Boeing 707 and are turning it into a restaurant. The intrepid twins say that they are hoping to welcome their first guests ‘within weeks.’
Engineering their dreams
Atallah and Khamis al-Sairafi are following an unusual trend of turning an unused aircraft into something quite different. We’ve seen old jets used as hotels, as office space and even residential homes. While the al-Sairafi twins won’t be the first to host a restaurant in an aircraft, they have, perhaps, had the most challenging time achieving their dreams.
The al-Sairafi brothers actually bought the plane back in 1999. They had become aware of a Boeing 707 gathering moss near Kiryat Shmona in the north of Israel, and began to form a plan. After negotiating with the Israeli owner, they acquired the plane, without its engines, for the sum of $100,000.
Clearly, they didn’t mind not having engines. Even if the plane had been operational, they still couldn’t have flown it where they wanted to go. Their dream was to set up a coffee house in the West Bank, an area that remains devoid of an airport to this day. That meant their only option was to transport the plane by road.
The brothers told the Times of Israel that they paid $20,000 to a haulage company to move the 707. It was a trip that took 13 hours to complete, further complicated by the need to coordinate with authorities on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. Roads were closed, the wings were removed, and the police from both sides intervened to manage the safety of the transfer.
Planned a restaurant since 2000
The brothers knew from the time the aircraft arrived that they wanted to run a restaurant out of the structure. However, their plans were put on hold as the second Palestinian intifada gripped the region. Khamis told the Times of Israel,
“The events in the Palestinian territories at that time hindered the completion of our project, and we thought of reviving it two years ago, but the spread of the coronavirus also prevented us from doing so.”
But now, with record vaccination rates in Israel and a program beginning to roll out in Palestine, the brothers are ready to turn their dream into a reality. The wings have been roughly reattached, the groundworks around it are complete and the twins have even secured a pair of dilapidated air stair carts from Ben Gurion Airport to provide access to the plane.
But the biggest changes have been on the inside. Here, we can see that the fittings have been stripped out and a smooth wood floor installed. The interior of the cabin has been lined and painted in white, with spotlighting on the ceiling. It even appears the brothers have installed a couple of air conditioning units in the cabin – a must in the sweltering heat of the Middle East.
Tables and chairs still need to be fitted, as does a catering kitchen. The brothers note that they want to provide hookahs to their guests, and later to expand their restaurant into more of an events space. They’re hoping to transform the cockpit into a venue for a wedding ceremony!
The al-Sairafi twins hope to open the venue in the coming weeks. They want to call their aviation-themed restaurant “The Palestinian-Jordanian Airline Restaurant and Coffee Shop Al-Sairafi Nablus.” Not the catchiest title, but who needs it when you’re dining in a decommissioned 707?