Walking in to Rotterdam’s latest pop-up restaurant, you’re greeted with smiles from the enthusiastic group of students behind the latest edition of the Happietaria initiative. Located at Hillelaan 19, opposite the Rijnhaven metro station, the restaurant is open daily, serving dinner between 17:30 and 22:30.

Created by the Happy Gift Foundation in 1994, Happietaria’s are operated by students and for students. The pop-up restaurants typically run for one month in student-cities, with the goal of raising funds for charity. EUR Public Administration student, Geanne Vink (19), Happietaria Rotterdam’s PR Manager, explains that the Happietaria is run by a different group of students each year. “Last year I helped as a waitress, and I loved the concept so much the [previous] team approached me and asked if I would join the management team this year”.

30,000 euro goal for charities ZOA and OneMen

Geanne explains that the funds raised will be split between two charities, ZOA and OneMen, adding that they ‘hope to make around 30,000 euro in total’. The money raised for ZOA will fund various relief efforts aimed at helping Syrian refugees. Amongst other things, ZOA provide emergency survival kits with sleeping and cooking equipment to families, support vulnerable women through workshops and organise activity days for children.

OneMen supports the work of individual pioneers who are involved with grassroots organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Happietaria’s contribution will be used to support the work of Collette, a pioneer working with the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC). Collette is committed to reducing child labour in Cameroon, and her focus is on educating parents and children of the dangers and disadvantages of child labour.

EUR students helping others

“I like the concept, everyone here is working for others,” Geanne says of the volunteer-run Happietaria. Corné Smaal (20), Business Administration student at EUR, says that he has learnt a lot and gained new skills in the hospitality sector through his involvement with the project. “I got involved through friends I’ve known since high school,” he says, “and we’re doing good things for people in Cameroon in Syria”.

Their customers also appreciate the concept, and many have visited earlier versions of the Happietaria pop-up restaurants. “It’s every year” explains Marscha Holleman, a student in the Health Economics Master at EUR. “I like the charity goals, the relaxed atmosphere and students from our association are volunteering,” she said. “It’s also something different!” added her dining partner, Kris Verhulst.

The menu on offer at Happietaria includes a variety of soups, salads and desserts. Guests can choose from a selection of main courses, with chicken, seafood, red meat and vegetarian options available, starting from 11 euro. The Happietaria is open until April 30, and reservations are recommended. HK