Since almost 10 years, you can find a little piece of Paris in Tilburg in the middle of the Dwaal area on the Noordstraat: de Burgerij. This building was once the parental home of owners and also brothers Joris, Jaap and Sam van Corven, where they devised the concept 'from kale to caviar'. Food with a story' is their unique product. We spoke with one of the brothers, Joris, about the origins of this delicatessen and brasserie, the flexibility that the brothers know in times of crisis and local entrepreneurship.
What can you expect from the Burgerij?
"It sounds strange to say it in this day and age, but the Burgerij stands for socialising and enjoying burgundian dishes together. From kale to caviar; something for everyone. It's like an experience restaurant where a lot of culture comes together."
How long does the Burgerij excist?
"Since last December, we have been celebrating our 9th anniversary. I used to live with my brothers Jaap and Sam where the Burgerij is located. When we were all a bit older, I went to Spain myself and rented out the house to students. Jaap worked at a large brewery and Sam was still in secondary school. When I came back from Spain we started to renovate our whole house to turn it into a delicatessen with a brasserie."
And how did you guys come up with this idea?
"The building used to house students and my father didn't want that any more. My brother Jaap's dream was to have a delicatessen, and when we all sat down to think about it, I thought it would be best to link a restaurant to it as well. We then started brainstorming in various sessions, and after a number of sessions, the concept of 'de Burgerij' emerged. So the idea came from dreams, passion and seeing what the market was doing. Nine years ago, we were in an economic crisis and everyone thought we were crazy to start a restaurant at that time. Only, back then, Tilburg was much less than it is now. Nowadays, there is enough variation in the city when it comes to the catering industry; back then, it was a uniformity. We came up with something unique: we put stamppot on the menu and extended it to caviar, in combination with the finest hams and cheeses. Nothing was done with a deep fryer, a forbidden product in our kitchen. Food with a story, that is our product."
Who is running the business?
"Jaap and I started and Sam joined in after a while. We have divided the tasks well: Jaap deals with the products we have developed, I deal with the creative part and the restaurant, and Sam manages the concepts we have developed."
What would you recommend to anyone eating at or from De Burgerij (for the first time)?
"The plateaus we make, consisting of our hams and cheeses from Spain, Italy and France, in both vegetarian and fish varieties, are a particular highlight. That really is our trademark!"
How do you guys deal with the current corona issues?
"We always think in terms of possibilities, not impossibilities. I'll never forget it: on my birthday, Sunday 15 March '20, the cabinet announced the first lockdown. Everything had to be shut down and the following day, the three of us sat together to plan how to proceed with the case.
It soon became clear that there was only one thing left to do: deliver. Two days later, we had realised our new concept: home delivery with a covered table. We do this because we really see our guests as guests, even when you order (online) from us. When I ring people's doorbells, I also want the quality product that we deliver to be presented in an appropriate manner, respecting the one and a half metre measure. I think that was a good move, because the little table has become our unique trademark. People's reactions are golden and that's what you do it for! People start laughing and clapping and want to take pictures of me with the table, because we manage to bring it to people's homes in such a unique way."
How can people order at the Burgerij?
"You can place an order with us via the webshop. You can then choose to pick it up or have it delivered. We also always have original offers during special holidays. At the moment, the Valentine's campaign is already running, where you can buy a special Valentine's table and menu, so be sure to take a look at our website!"
With whom do you have collaborations?
"With RAW, Spectra and Hofstede de Blaak we have a 3-course menu together. At Hostel Roots, guests can enjoy our 3-course Burgerij menu in their booked room. But also with the retail we have had several collaborations. Think of Tien in de Heuvelstraat, Re-Issue, Mint & Pepr and Stuen, where you got a voucher for a good bottle of wine with a selected product."
Can I also find you on Thuisbezorgd?
"Yes, starting this month! We have hesitated for a long time about this, because we want to serve our food with a certain experience. That experience is quickly lost when it is delivered by an external party. In addition, the medium charges quite a bit of commission. That is why our trademarks like the platters are not available at Thuisbezorgd. You can order our twelve best sandwiches and our fresh stews here. Fortunately, we see that our brand awareness, especially through social media, is getting bigger, so people know how to find us even in times of crisis. The expansion to Thuisbezorgd is a success; in the first weekend already 30 to 40 orders went out, to people who were not yet familiar with us."
How do you experience the neighbourhood?
"Generally speaking, very good. We have a lot of patronage from people who support us by buying products from us and people who like to come to us."
Do you like local shopping?
"If I have the time, I prefer to shop locally! I get my meat at Kees van Hest Butcher's on Nieuwlandstraat and other necessities at other local shops. Partly because of the crisis, I haven't bought any clothes in a long time and fortunately I don't have the problem of going to the hairdresser's," Joris says with a laugh.
Which local business do you prefer most?
"I love coming to Trattoria La Nonna on Wilem II Street, because I can talk Spanish with the owners there. I also love the Piushaven, especially in the summer. We have our restaurant de Visserij there. What's unique about Piushaven is that it all has different concepts. Each restaurant is totally different from the other. Radioplein has turned out really great! I like it when you visit shops where people have passion for their profession. In recent years, many more of those have come to Tilburg!"