New restaurants, change of plans
You put months of work into opening a new restaurant, and then suddenly, everything gets canceled. Three entrepreneurs who just started their business about being creative in times of corona.
Tim Elfring answers the phone while packing meal boxes. He's the owner of PHOOD Kitchen, the brand new restaurant he started this month with Sabine Feron. The idea: a place to enjoy sophisticated street food, located on the monumental Campina grounds, the Caai. Unfortunately, the doors never opened.
Even before the hospitality industry had to officially close because of corona, he planned a meeting with his suppliers. Everyone was affected by the crisis, with at least eighty percent of their orders being canceled in a few days' time. The local entrepreneurs decided to join forces and set up the Farm Box. A healthy meal box with local vegetables. PHOOD's chef developed recipes that you can make yourself at home.
You can choose from three meals, all vegetarian. The box contains many delicacies from local growers, such as strawberries, rhubarb, mushrooms, organic eggs, and super fresh asparagus. The takeaway service, which PHOOD had already planned, has also been set up faster. 'So we also prepare meals that you can pick up on-demand or have delivered via Deliveroo.'
The meal boxes have become a success. A 'private cooking club' has even come into being: a private Facebook group in which customers exchange tips and the chef answers questions on how to best prepare asparagus.
'Friday the thirteenth would've been our grand opening party. A few hundred guests, DJ, live music, and a lot of fun, but we called it off.' On the phone is Boris Gaubert, who was supposed to open Mooie Boules this month, a pétanque and food hall in one on the Kleine Berg.
Mooie Boules has more branches spread over the Netherlands. The core of all activities: getting together to play games, have a drink, and make new friends. The latter is tricky now, admits Gert Jan van den Brink from the head office. But you can still play and enjoy good food at home. And so he came up with a game package with tasty beers and yummy snacks. The boxes can be ordered online, and you can choose from board games, dice games, and a genuine jeu de boules set. This way, we hope to be able to offer something fun to our customers. And it created a nice, spontaneous collaboration with all our partners, like beer brewers, cheese makers, and game manufacturers."
At the Kleine Berg, they use this time to do some extra construction work. 'At the beginning of March, we organized two testing weekends', says Boris. 'Everyone had so much fun. Hopefully, we'll reopen soon. We're ready.'
Jungle Café on the Edisonstraat opened its doors in February, but it had to close down two weeks later. A disappointment, says co-owner Niels Voorhout. Although he is happy with the small clientele, they have been able to build up in those two weeks. Even now, some of them continue to come.
The set-up has completely changed, though. Originally a breakfast, coffee, and lunchroom, Jungle Café has now become a takeaway and delivery service focused on lunch and dinner. 'We've noticed that that's what's most in-demand.' Bestsellers are healthy bowls with smoothies or juices for extra vitamins. The meals are delivered at home or available for takeaway. 'We've placed a table outside where you can pick up your order yourself. You pay in advance via a Tikkie.'
So far, it's going well, and he manages to pay the rent. 'One day is busier than the other, but we're happy to do it this way. In addition, we are now looking at how we can do something for the local community in return. For example, by delivering leftover meals to elderly people.'