Thanks for visiting our website. We are an entrepreneurial family from Amsterdam with three kids and number four on the way. For more than 12 years we have been working in the hospitality business in our beautiful city, creating unique meeting places on special locations and organizing uncountable events. A year and a half down the Covid timeline we have decided to sell our businesses and make a new start in a deserted village in the inlands of Portugal. We would like to give you a quick insight in the history of our career here in Amsterdam, for your understanding of where we came from.
We started our first café, restaurant, exhibition room and club on the top floor of the old newspaper building of the Volkskrant on the Wibautstraat in Amsterdam in 2007. This started of as a temporary project. Thijs won a pitch with his business plan Canvas to start a place that would feel as a living room for the artists that filled all the former offices of the building and connect them to the neighbors and visitors. This building and the other 2 buildings that were part of the old newspaper triangle were on the demolition list and planned to exist no longer than 7 years. When we started the street we were located, was still considered to be the ugliest street of the city. The surrounding neighbourhood was not very attractive, so urban planners were already preparing development plans to give this area a facelift in looks and reputation. We, among other hospitality projects that followed us, like club TROUW and restaurant BAUT, played an important role in this pre-development phase, attracting a lot of locals and international people to the neighborhood.
During these crisis years, development plans changed and new owners decided to renovate in stead of demolish the buildings in the newspaper triangle. Giving new life to the old buildings.
Canvas finally got future perspective when the new real estate owner asked us to become partner in his new plans for a quirky budget hotel. Together we created the Volkshotel, with Canvas, Doka and Werkplaats as the F&B outlets in which we became partner until the end of 2015.
In 2010 we were asked to start a new hospitality business on the old industrial island of Oostenburg in the center of the city. A beautiful blindspot that due to its former industrial function, had not been very accessible to the public for years. We negotiated favourable rental terms in exchange for the commitment to put a spotlight on this island in preparation of the urban development that was planned after 2018.
We immediately fell in love with the place and created Roest. An edgy urban oasis with a city beach, self service concept and an overload of cultural programming in the warehouse and cafe.
Roest, this child of the financial crisis was blessed with a lot of room for experiment from the municipality, and an exceptional amount of space for a location as central as this one. Roest became a playground and hangout for all ages, and a breeding ground for talent and creativity. It was a place where crazy ideas found a home and nothing seemed impossible. In the 9 years that we have been operational we organized and realized more than we could have ever expected. Festivals, theater shows, classical concerts, dance events, markets, corporate events, sports events, club nights, film nights, waterpistol and snowballs fights, and many more events. Roest became widely know for its vibe, diversity and uniqueness in and over borders. It was a magical place during a magical time, where together with all our guests, staff, creatives, partners, program makers and contributors we created memories for life and a little piece of history for the city of Amsterdam.
After years of negotiating and struggles to acquire the real estate and ensure our position for the long term we finally signed the deed in 2016, making us also the proud owners of the real estate of Roest. Our project gained the right of existence and we became final stakeholders in the urban development plans. We started working out our own plans for renovation of the building and renewing the concept to stay aligned with the changing environment and future target groups. The renovation was planned to finish by the end of 2021 so we could reopen in the spring of 2022.
In the meantime we also started a small cafe restaurant Bombarie around the corner from Roest. It was situated on the ground floor of the former Quarantine building next to the Lloyd hotel. Thijs’ parents had squatted this building in 1981 when his mother was pregnant with him. Thijs, his sister and brother all were born there on the attic where they have lived until 1990.
When the former owner, who was a friend of the family, decided to sell her restaurant, the emotional attachment to the building convinced us to take on this project together with two operational partners.
Unfortunately the crisis of 2020 brought some abrupt changes to our industry. Subjecting our whole sector to months of lockdowns, insecurity and making us totally dependent upon the government for survival.
Right before the second lockdown our partners in Bombarie decided to quit the business.
We changed the concept and the name of the place to The Quarantine. We tried to make the best of the situation, stay flexible and creative to overcome the second lockdown that seemed to last forever.
Watch our Great Exit of Amsterdam video here
Meanwhile all conspiracy theories that we had predicted ourselves started to become true and the hope and perspective for a normal recovery of our sector started to vanish completely. Banks abandoned us, leaving us dependent upon a crowdfund to finish our plans for Roest. Although our crowdfund took of very successfully, a feeling of discomfort started to fall over us. It became more and more clear that the travel, hospitality and events business were going to be used to mandate mask wearing, testing and ultimately vaccines to the public. Rules and regulations that go straight against our principles. We started to realize we had been closing our eyes for the things that were right in front of our faces. We had been warning people from the beginning for the scenarios ahead, but somehow we also had become subject to cognitive dissonance, because we were not ready to let go of our dreams. To let go of our basis and everything we had worked on for over a decennium.
But once you see, once you realize, you cannot unsee. So we knew it was time to make a choice. Either we would stand for our principles and proceed our plans, sailing on false hope that everything would soon be over and return to normal. This would have been utterly naive. Or we could bow for policy and ignore our principles. This would have been utterly opportunistic and totally against our gut feeling and moral compass.
None of these plans were an option. The scenario we had been trying to avoid from the very beginning, which was to sell everything, turned out the be the only right thing to do.
So with pain in our hearts but our hearts filled with beautiful memories, we decided to close this book and start a new chapter.
Trying to detach from the things we love and have believed in for such a long time, has been very painful. We don’t know yet where the story ends, which parents will adopt our businesses, and how content we will be with that. But we do know where the next story begins. During the worst period of grief following our decision to let go of our old life, we stumbled upon a deserted village in ortugal on an international real estate website. Just the thought of taking on such an adventure, immediately brought renewed energy, joy and creativity back into our lives. Within a couple of days I flew over to Portugal with my dad to visit the property. We signed the same afternoon. During the summer holidays we went over with the whole family to meet and feel our new property. 12 hectares , 8 ruines, waterholes, fruit trees, honey bees, nature, possibilities and a shit load of work.