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Gijs Numan, owner of Brasserie Paardenburg aan de Amstel, has been in the catering industry for a long time. In fact, he has had only one passion his entire life: developing catering businesses. With this conclusion, MASTERS wonders: did Gijs need a wheelbarrow? Text: Mical Joseph
Image: Good Folk

Learned young is done old

“When I just got my nose above the bar at the age of 11, I helped as a bar boy in Weesp at the local sports club. Until I was 15I ran the bar on Sundays.” 

Gijs's parents have little to do with the catering industry, mother is an interior designer and father is a scientist, but Gijs's blood runs deep. “From a young age I knew that I wanted to enter the catering profession and start my own business. When I graduated from hotel school at the age of 20, I immediately wanted a job as a manager, strangely enough, no one around me wanted to hire me as a manager, I didn't understand it at the time. I always wondered: why is that? Now I know why. I had too big a mouth and was much too young.”

After working in Maastricht for a year, Gijs came to Vlieland by chance. First for a short seasonal job, but he soon found the challenge of setting up a restaurant and gallery for an entrepreneur who was new to the island and did not come from the catering industry. Through hard work the company became a great success and grew by 500% in the first year.

But Gijs wanted more and missed Amsterdam. No sooner said than done: at the age of 25 he opened his first catering business on Alexanderplein opposite the Tropenmuseum. “It was a relatively small restaurant in a beautiful place.  Six months after the opening, I hired Michael Hendriksen for the kitchen. He is still my boss to this day and therefore the great permanent member of our team.”

Brasserie Paardenburg on the Amstel

During his career, Gijs has developed several catering businesses, including, in addition to 'Elkaar', also 'Eau de Vie' in Amsterdam South and, together with a partner, restaurant Aaltje Weesp, where he grew up. Aaltje is located in the building where Gijs had his first job as a dishwasher at the age of 15. “It is a typical Gijs thing that at a certain point after development I get bored with the case. I like new challenges.” Babysitting at the store is not for me.

Brasserie Paardenburg came up for sale and Gijs saw something in the iconic, but worn-out business “The water, the terrace and the party room suit me. I was charmed by the versatility of Paardenburg and there was something to develop.” Gijs knew this: the summer of 2018 was so long and hot, even though he had just taken over the business without employees. Staff that is almost impossible to find these days. In June, the catering entrepreneur received the message that his house was on fire and had become uninhabitable. He was forced to move to the space above Paardenburg. “Not ideal if you want to relax, but it is useful for focus. You can say that my passion and life are in the business. After a year of renovations and development, the Paardenburg is now finally the way I want it.”

On July 9, 10 and 11 you will organize the first edition of Paardenkracht - Culinary Theater Festival. What does this mean?

“This new culinary theater festival is organized in our beautiful garden and the Tuinzaal of Paardenburg. None other than artist and entertainer Ellen ten Damme provides spectacular performances in our intimate theater hall. When getting the entrance card the guest can choose a time slot that gives them access to one of these performances. There are various food stations spread throughout our garden where you can pick up the dishes from the culinary 5-course menu. Guests can buy their favorite drink at the various bars and finally enjoy the genuine festival again. In terms of experience, think of a combination of 'De Parade', 'Taste of Amsterdam' and the 'Bacchus wine festival', but more intimate with limited places! So that will be great.”

The wheelbarrow of…

As a wheelbarrow, it is important to show your student everything about the industry. “I have always supervised many students from the hotel school. These young people have chosen the training, but the catering profession remains a crazy profession. It is intensive, you are poorly cared for and often poorly paid. If you are young and enter the wrong training company, you often leave this industry immediately.”

“For me, I was my own wheelbarrow. I used to be (and still am) bad Dedicated with the goals I wanted to achieve. From the moment I was 11behind the bar at that sports club, I already knew that I wanted to become a catering entrepreneur. I have a very versatile education. From a pub to a star restaurant, and from catering to a party center: I know about every aspect of the catering industry what the most efficient working method is and what needs to be done to keep a business running and successful. My big mouth, bluffing and self-confidence have also brought me far.”

Gijs's own advice

Gijs advises his 18-year-old self not to linger in the business for too long. By this he means that after development he often continued to work for many hours, while he could also transfer the work to a partner or staff. Learning to delegate better is still on his to-do list today. “I definitely need to get better at delegating and handing over tasks to the staff. At the same time, my passion is working with my young team. This also keeps me young and no day is the same at Paardenburg.”