Three anecdotes of a barman
A lot of years in In de Olofspoort, a lot of memories. I stepped in there, one day, because of my parents and, since then, I have never ceased to come back. It was in the mid-90's that I tapped my first beer “on the wrong side of the bar”.
by Hans Al
I stood behind the counter for a few years. Alone, with Riny, Jan, and, of course, Bas. In that time the bar opened at 16.00. I was the one who took care of the bar from that moment on, a few days in the week. The first hours were not the busiest. It could happen that the first client just came by one hour, one hour and a half afterwards. I spent that time polishing my knowledge of the profession (what were the ingredients of that one liquor, again?), or polishing copper.
Sometimes a lost tourist came inside immediately after the opening, and he would get welcomed with all courtesy, blessed as the barman felt with the visit. Like a Rus, who appeared to be lost in Amsterdam and who came inside In de Olofspoort with a broad smile and a gaze that seemed to say “if I sit on that barstool, you will never get me out of it”. I guessed it right. I could not understand a word of what the Rus said, but he found it no problem at all. He ordered a large beer, got loose in Russian and babbled the story of his whole family, I suspect, in one and a half hour. Now, my Russian was as useful here as a chocolate teapot, so I missed the core of the story. In ninety minutes, I did learn to grin in Russian, though, and to nod in the right moment, and to say 'njet'. And I also learned that when you strongly desire for that one Dutch client to show up, that's precisely when he will leave you waiting.
The clock had just struck four and, not long afterwards, the door's lock got open. What took place was something that any filmmaker would have dreamt. The Warmoesstraat is a place where there is always something to see and to experience, and that day was no exception: a huge truck came from the Prins Hendrikkade riding towards the Nieuwebrugsteeg, and it stopped pontificating in front of the Olofspoort. A man who was as tall as a dwarf but two times broader came inside. He said, with an Amsterdam's accent, that a couple of crazies from across the street had tried to bring a piano up through the stairs from the first floor up to the second and that the “engine” is stuck on the fifth step. He had to sort that out and asked if he could let his truck stand in front of our door “for a moment”, “it would not take him long”. In case an automobilist got impatient – which he didn't expect – he would be ready in a minute, and I could send the person over, no problem. Okay, the man was gone, and there it was, his struck standing in the alley as the iron curtain. After twenty seconds, the first driver let himself be heard with the sweet sound of honking. I did not flinch; it would be okay. The party started after ten minutes with an orgy of decibels in all possible tones. Going outside meant risking getting murdered, so I kept on going about my business. In the meanwhile some guests had gathered in front of the house, they were in the first row. Faces got flushed inside the cars, 'lovely' Dutch vocabulary could be heard all around, tourists were busy taking pictures, and still no sight of the piano man. After one and a half hour the man finally appears, sweaty but with an accomplished smile on his face. The mission had been completed. He nodded politely at the first driver waiting behind his vehicle (and who almost had had a stroke in the meanwhile), climbed to his cabin, let his honk howl and galloped on to his next job. There were a few car drivers who have gotten a couple of years older just in that afternoon.
Homage for mother
My most beautiful memory remains March 11, 2008. My mum, who was a regular at In the Olofspoort, had passed away a few days before that. My father and I decided to conclude the day of the funeral together with the whole family and friends in the style that my mother would have wished, de Olofspoort. In the mid-afternoon, we arrive with around fifty people. Riny, who had a special friendship with my mother, had opened the tasting house especially for us. It was an evening of recollections which got sealed with a lot of precious moments. This evening is forever carved in my memory and here's one of the reasons why: around 19.00 a big firemen truck came all the way into the Warmoesstraat and stopped by the Olofspoort. A fireman, friend of mine, made sure that the sirene kept ringing for one minute in homage to a special lady. You could almost hear the goosebumps in a dead silent cafe. People who were with us that night do regularly come to the Olofspoort to see us. A memorable, impressive evening, it was. Afterwards, a beautiful photo of my mother found its place on top of the piano, something for which Riny deserves my gratitude, and always will.
“Congratulations with your new employee, Raymond. He is a fine man, friendly in his manner but, above all, a trustworthy person. There is no doubt that he is “added value” to your enterprise. We wish you all the luck in business. Best regards, Marijke Licher”
by Martin Bogaard
For years now, I've been a regular In de Olofspoort, one of the most beautiful hospitality premises in Amsterdam. I find myself there often with a group, what usually results in a tasting, guided by Riny. The highlight is when Riny looks each one of us in the eye, says something about the person and which liquor combines the best with them.
A little acquaintance with someone can be welcome in this case. There was a man who had once reanimated someone in a sky setting during a winter holiday in the snow. Riny got loose with this information and emphasised the particular qualities of this guest, including the capacity of taking action in a life or death situation. The guest got utterly silent and listened to her words with an open mouth. How could the lady from the tasting house know all these things? He had no clue. Seated next to him, his brother was also in awe. So much so that he drank his liquor in one shot and left the place. The poor creature had never seen something like that, and he walked to Central Station with goosebumps. We had consciously shared with Riny that little piece information before the tasting. But we hadn't seen this coming. Luckily we could still reach his brother at Central Station before he got in the metro. We came back to the shop somewhat embarrassed, and there he drank another liquor against the fright. The evening lasted until late.
Congratulations on the Jubilee and I hope to keep on tasting all your delicious beverages for long years to come and have Raymond, Robby and Riny & Paul take care of it in the excellent manner that they doe.
* Riny: The information I knew was very vague; I also got shocked by what happened.
Always something nice
Jan en Mieke Aalbertsen (... this sweet couple both passed away in the meanwhile..I.M.)
I am one of those clients who comes In de Olofspoort since the start; I come here since 1990. I have a lot of memories from the past, such as the couple Vrieze from Maastricht with their daughters. Or the poet Okke. In fact, every of In de Olofspoort's guests had something interesting in my opinion. I hope that you can go on for many, many years, in good health. Best regards from Kesteren.
Warmth and friendship
As I walked along the Warmoesstraat towards Central Station, the facade from In de Olofspoort always amused and gave me feeling of cosiness. Not only because of the stunning building but also because of the warmth and friendship one feels there and in the person of Riny.
Giuseppa Witlox (circle of Social Enterpreneuship of Amsterdam)
In the years that I've lived in the Warmoesstraat, a beautiful bond grew stronger between us, something which has meant a lot for the Augustinian Sisters from Santa Monica. At our 65th birthday they (In de Olofspoort) organised, together with a group of friends, a cultural evening for us and for everyone we worked for in Amsterdam, in a room of Hotel Krasnapolsky. Still they strive for us today In de Olofspoort. Thank you; we are together!