On Thursday, campus pub In de Smitse will be celebrating its twentieth birthday. To mark the occasion, it is holding a themed Pirate Party. A look back at twenty years of Smitse.
The Smitse opened in Delft in the 1970s as an informal place to have a beer. In 1996, the pub moved to the FG building on the EUR campus.
Matthijs Wouterse was in the first board after the Smitse moved to its current location in T building in 2005. “Immediately after my second lecture at university, I heard that there was a pub there. I went and had a beer and saw a notice on the wall advertising for bartenders. Barman Otto persuaded me to try my hand behind the bar. Later I joined the board.” In 2008, the pub was expanded. Wouterse: “Our turnover soared after the refurbishment because we could accommodate so many more people.”
Today, 25 bar volunteers, headed by a four-person board, run the café. The success of the Smitse is really down to those volunteers, says Christiaan van der Vaart, president in 2010 and 2011. “There’s a great goodwill factor. A lot of time goes into running a company. The bartenders are all volunteers. People see that.”
The fact that the Smitse doesn’t play safe also plays a role in that goodwill factor. “We wanted to create a traditional pub with lots of specialty beers in the sterile T building.” And we succeeded, feels Van der Vaart: “When you turn left after going down the escalator, you soon leave your classes far behind.”
'Your own pub'
A notable feature of the Smitse is the family atmosphere among the volunteers. Van der Vaart still talks in the we form when he tells a story about the Smitse. What makes the Smitse so special, he feels, is that “there is no other student association which has its own company. The best thing after a busy evening was when all the guests had gone home and we’d cleaned up and were able to enjoy a beer together. You have your own pub, it’s your business, together with the bartenders and the board. That’s a real life experience.”
Lilian Broekman, the current president, remembers the constitution drinks. “At one point, someone began to spray champagne and everyone was able to escape except for me, because I’d had far too much to drink. I got soaked. They took a photo of me looking very sulky – it’s still in the office today.”
Van der Vaart also has happy memories of his time running the Smitse. “I can still remember people having to wait ages for the toilets on busy Thursday evenings and eventually resorting to using the washbasins instead.”
Wouterse: “I’d better not give away all the details. But the post exam drinks led to hilarious scenes.”
There will be many changes at the Smitse in the coming academic year. For example, there will now be five instead of four people on the board. “All the staff work here part time. We can’t ask too much of them. With five managers, we can always ensure that one of us is around every evening,” says Broekman.
In September, the Smitse will also be moving from the Mandeville building (T) to Hatta building (U). The pub will be bigger, have a sun-facing terrace and perhaps longer opening hours too.
Van der Vaart was a “huge supporter” of the move. “We must keep developing. In the past, the Smitse was still a sort of RSM pub, but not any more. When we move, we will be in a more central position on campus. That’s ideal for us.”
But first there’s the Pirate Party on Thursday. It promises to be huge. Broekman: “The pub doesn’t have a reputation for being super student, so that’s why we’ve never properly celebrated an anniversary before.”
On Monday 25 April, there are also Board Drinks, when anyone interested in joining the Board at the Smitse are welcome to come along.