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Zuidas cafés and restaurants reopen

‘Of course I’m happy, but this is just the first step’, says Marijn Koning of Market 33. ‘In a location of this size, the atmosphere really depends on having a lot of guests here. And let’s be honest, we’re not expecting crowds of people through the door immediately.’ Market 33 is home to ten small food shops, each with its own speciality – from Thai and Vietnamese to Mexican. ‘Fortunately, none of the businesses has gone under and they were all ready to open their doors again yesterday’, continues Koning. ‘We stayed open for take-out food, so we have all seen each other of course, but we’re so pleased that now our guests can eat here again. We’re determined to make sure they enjoy their time here.’

A step in the right direction

The whole place is now also set up so that everyone can keep 1.5 metres distance more easily and comfortably. Now all they need is some customers. Koning: ‘The problem is that, like most businesses in Zuidas, we rely mainly on the people who work here. And as long as people keep working from home, it’s going to be difficult for us to keep our heads above water. Having said that, opening our doors again is a step in the right direction, of course.’

A nerve-racking few months

A little further up Claude Debussylaan is De Nieuwe Poort. In addition to meeting rooms, there is also a bar and a restaurant that employs people who are at a disadvantage in the labour market. Frank Kruijswijk, the manager there, is cautiously optimistic. ‘We’ve been through a really nerve-racking few months. We stayed open for take-out orders, but it’s been very quiet. Fortunately, we had a good year last year and we had some reserves to draw on. But it would be wonderful if things got busier again.’

One for the history books

Because every little bit helps, Kruijswijk’s team has been working on sprucing up their terrace during the recent quiet period. ‘Normally that’s a job you would hire a contractor to do for you, but we’ve done it all ourselves. Actually, it helped to bring us together. So at least some good has come out of this crisis.’ The evening of 1 June was one for the history books. ‘We had a reservation for a group of ten people, and they had the honour of being the first to sit out on the new terrace. Because they weren’t all from the same household, we set up tables for two with 1.5 metres between them.’ And everyone still had a great evening, even though they were a bit further apart than normal. ‘An enjoyable evening like that reminds you why you are in this job. It really lifted our morale!’

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