Rotterdam has a brand new international student cafeteria-style hangout, The Kitchen, located in The Student Hotel. “Kitchens are often very social places”, explains Jelle Maijer, one of the directors of The Kitchen, “it is a place where you can sit, have a coffee, check your mail and crawl out late in the evening after having had plenty of beers. At least you had a decent meal.”

The Kitchen is a new concept invented by Maijer himself. The service is limited and The Kitchen builds on the service used in cafeterias. This means that there are no waiters walking around and you have to order your food and drink yourself. “We definitely see our limited service as an advantage”, explains Maijer, “we do not have to charge the service and therefore, can provide quality food for affordable prices.”

‘Students are less represented’

A few years ago Maijer started De Stadskantine (in English: the City Cafeteria) since there was no decent place where people could get breakfast, lunch or dinner for a small price. De Stadskantine targeted all citizens of Amsterdam who wanted to grab a bite to eat but not pay too much for it. “But, what we see is that students are less represented then other groups”, emphasizes Maijer. Therefore, The Kitchen aims to fulfill the needs of students regarding affordable food as well as provide a social environment for them to hangout.

Waiters do not bother you

The Kitchen is open from 09:00 till 22:00 in order to meet the needs of students as best as possible. During the day, The Kitchen looks like any other hangout which offers good coffee and free wifi. Only, here no waiter bothers you every ten minutes. Jonathan Ward (19), first year Public Administration student, especially likes that the employees of The Kitchen do not bother you. “I can just sit here as long as I want and when I feel like ordering something I do”, says Ward.

Coffee happy hour

In addition, The Kitchen introduced coffee happy hours during the mornings. “Coffee is such an important part of today’s student life”, emphasizes Maijer, “that was not the case when I studied and that’s why we thought it was time to introduce a new kind of happy hour.” “The coffee at university is not bad, but it is nice to once in a while get it somewhere else”, explains Gaby Martinez (25), a Marketing Master student, “here I do not overpay for a cup of coffee, which I like.”

Home cooking for non-home cookers

The directors of The Kitchen are aware that within Rotterdam there are several other popular student hangouts. Therefore, they try to differentiate by the menu they offer. Essentially, the menu is based on the idea of home cooking for non-home cookers. “We actually cook, the veggies are fresh and we use no additives or ready-made components”, says Maijer. Ward has eaten at The Kitchen a couple of times. “I live with three male roommates and none of us like cooking, so we a lot of easy food such as pizza”, explains Ward, “it is nice to be able to go out for dinner and at the same time not spend a lot of money.” The Kitchen has a special offer if a group comes to eat. A ‘pan-meal’, a The Kitchen dinner for four people, costs only 22 euros.

Several activities

There are lots of plans to further build the The Kitchen concept by offering activities which are appealing to students. “We want to be involved with the cultural events that are happening in Rotterdam”, emphasizes Maijer. For instance, during the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, there were several documentaries shown in The Kitchen. “We will continue to be involved in the culture of the city”, highlights Maijer, “so events like Art Week and Museum Nacht will absolutely be an inspiration for our new projects.” Ultimately, the directors of The Kitchen want their hangout to actually feel like the social place a kitchen can be in anyone’s home. Therefore, soon guest will be able to control the music that is played in The Kitchen through a mobile application. NdB