Can you describe what you do?
I’ve been an independent restaurant and bar owner for nineteen years now. I’m a foodie, pretty much, although one that gives a lot of attention to design and concept. I’m always looking for different, new things happening around the globe, whether in fashion or music, and try to define tastes, colours and sentiments. Then I’ll try to translate these into a bar or a restaurant. I have the luxury to work out these ideas with incredibly talented people that know the business better than I do. We have about 100 people working for us and it’s a bit of a crazy company we’re running here so we’re also looking for crazy people to work with. “People who are missing a corner,” as the Antwerpian expression goes. My main activity is to find those people.
How do you perceive Antwerp?
My love for Antwerp goes way back. My dad was a sailor so every journey he made started from Rotterdam or Antwerp. The harbour, the cultural diversity, the diamonds, and so much more turn Antwerp into a true cosmopolitan hub. The city has a beating heart and a bohemian feel. It’s feels more like a hometown than my actual hometown, Bergen.
People from Antwerp tend to have high standards. If you can be successful in here, you’ll probably make it anywhere.
What is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives and outsiders?
Antwerp has everything in village size. With so much to offer, it’s still possible to walk through the city centre in less than half an hour. There’s also such a welcoming feel to the city. Working in the hospitality sector, we notice it everyday. Both tourists and locals like Antwerp because of the quality of its offer, but also because the city feels warm and relaxing.
How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today?
It shaped me because it’s a city where you can benchmark anything, where new initiatives and entrepreneurship are stimulated. That definitely motivates me. Also, people from Antwerp tend to have high standards. If you can be successful in here, you’ll probably make it anywhere.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
I know they’re working very hard on it, but there is definitely a lack of efficient infrastructure in Antwerp and the city centre could also use some development. The centre is arguably the most important part of any city and I feel there is a lack of vision here. Around the Grote Markt for example, it is extremely hard for any business to survive. As a result, a lot of business owners have shifted their focus to the North and the South of Antwerp.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp?
We’re blessed with fantastic museums of all kinds – MAS, M HKA, FoMu, to name just a few. There’s also an abundance of beautiful architecture and street culture to discover. For me it’s always the same; visit the Zoo of Antwerp, take a cruise down the river and see the city from the waterside, and finish with some fine dining and drinking. Antwerp is the perfect outlet for our inner hedonist.taste.nu Interview Kevin Lau Photography Thomas Ost