#SupportYourLocals | Mathilde and Suzanne from Falafellow
In our #SupportYourLocals column, we visit our neighbors at the NDSM wharf one by one to hear their stories and, where necessary, encourage them. For this edition we dive into the west side of the NDSM wharf and I speak with Mathilde van der Weerd and Suzanne Pernot from Falafellow (Mt. Lincolnweg 15).
I meet Mathilde and Suzanne on a sunny day at their spot on the west side of the NDSM wharf. The waving flags and open van window are a familiar sight to me, since I live close to Falafellow. When I appear at the window, I am immediately greeted with a broad smile and allowed to enter through a side door. The space is a kitchen, period. There are no seats where you can eat at Falafellow, because the eatery is a “dark kitchen”. Het Parool previously wrote this article about the phenomenon, but I asked Mathilde and Suzanne about their own interpretation. “The principle is that you have no seats and that your establishment only consists of a production kitchen,” says Mathilde, “in that kitchen you can then produce for different purposes: for yourself, a caterer, another company, you name it.”
“It is also a way to use the location you have as efficiently as possible,” adds Suzanne, “instead of having to go to a different kitchen to make a product for a certain brand or company, everything is possible in the same place, or in the same oven, so to speak. Deliverers can also collect all products from the same place, which saves time and fuel, for example.”
So a dark kitchen, which can only be collected or delivered from. Intrigued I accept a drink from Mathilde, I also have a background in hospitality, so I was very curious how these two enthusiastic women ended up here. As I open my notebook I ask about their story. “We started in the middle of corona last year,” says Mathilde, “we wouldn’t have existed without it, because the idea wasn’t there before the pandemic started. I have a restaurant in Hilversum and we had to close it on March 15th. From that moment on, out of boredom really, I started looking for something to do that could be done in corona times. Actually as a kind of joke, we came up with this idea as a pop-up at the end of March 2020 and we already opened on April 10th. Where you normally spend a year developing a concept, we completed the entire foundation with Falafellow in 10 days. ” I choke when Mathilde tells me this, which makes both women laugh for a moment. Mathilde explains how she lives in the area and saw this building empty for a while and took the opportunity. This way the process could be started quickly and they only needed 10 days to open.
It went like a dream from the start. At first, Mathilde asked a different friend each time to join her in the kitchen to help with service, but soon she had to hire staff to keep up with the demand. “The idea also arose from the need for a healthy, vegan option around here,” adds Mathilde, “As a consumer, I noticed that I was still missing that. I then made the recipe together with a friend, which is secret by the way. ” It’s a good thing Mathilde keeps the recipe a secret because it is out-of-this-world delicious. The tender, amazingly spiced falafel balls accompany a colorful salad or sandwich and are served with a very tasty tahini sauce or harissa dressing.
Suzanne then continues: “We make everything ourselves and work with the philosophy ‘everyone does everything’, from working the kitchen to the dishes to the delivery. We also have a very nice team, that energy is very contagious and you also notice that in our customers. ” Suzanne also tells me how they try to bring hospitality to the take-away meals with the team: “you notice that people expect an anonymous take-away place and they are surprised when they notice how cozy it is here at the window or at the door with one of our delivery drivers when they deliver the meals. Even if it is only 5 minutes, a nice interaction with people is really worth a lot and I think that is where our strength lies. ”
While listening to the story of Suzanne and Mathilde, I notice how much I have missed the hospitality that you find in a restaurant or eatery. It is reassuring to see that hospitality is also applied in takeaway meals. Falafellow has not stopped growing since their opening and as a dark kitchen they have entered into a collaboration with Vegan Masters and Oh My Guts. This makes it possible to distribute their products throughout the Netherlands. Still, I ask Mathilde what makes the NDSM shipyard special as a place to do business from. “I think it’s a beautiful, raw place where you can pioneer and experiment,” she says, “a kind of safe garden where people can experiment with their own tastes and beliefs. This way we can present our products, the vegan and modern way of eating, in an accessible way so that not only the hip young people, but everyone can be exposed to it. ”
“What I also really like about NDSM,” adds Suzanne, “is that people take their food with them and walk around the corner to sit at a picnic table on the yard. In that sense, we don’t need those seating areas inside, because the yard is inviting enough. ”
Finally, I ask Suzanne and Mathilde about the future plans for Falafellow, as it is clear that the pop-up idea has taken a permanent shape over the past year. “One of the most important things is to expand to another district in Amsterdam and / or to another city in the Netherlands. We notice from the reviews online and how much we have grown that the concept works and that there are many opportunities there. I think it would be very nice to roll over to Utrecht, for example. ” What started as a way to keep busy during corona, has now grown into a permanent place for healthy meals at the NDSM wharf. Many initiatives were launched during the pandemic, yet I think Falafellow is a very special one. The idea of bringing hospitality into the takeaway business fascinates me. Falafellow also takes part in city walks such as Tasty Walks, a fun way to see some of the city and walk past some culinary delights.
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