Happy ambassadors: Sincere and real, restaurant 21 Pinchos in Rotterdam
René Van Gool is a small business owner. He is sixty years old and has spent the last forty years plying his trade in the real estate and project development business, during which time he mainly worked on inner-city redevelopment. Food played a key role in many of his projects, including the original concept for Rotterdam’s market hall. He oversees the entire food chain, from farmer to fork. After much consulting and development in the Netherlands and abroad, he thought it was time to start working on his own. Along with a few enthusiastic young companions, he opened his own restaurant: 21 Pinchos. At its core, this restaurant revolves around sustainability and service, René’s two main values. We were also able to contribute to this beautiful restaurant. In this blog, we pass the mic to René, a passionate and inspiring hospitality entrepreneur.
"21 Pinchos" sounds Spanish, but is originally a Danish concept. Pinchos are a type of tapas with a skewer, the so-called ‘Pincho’. The skewer is central to the business and it even plays a major visual role. In our business, we believe that everyone should feel free to be themselves, both patrons and staff alike. We are open to each other and try to create a relaxed and honest environment. These values are part of our DNA and we want to protect them. Our approach to the hospitality business is down-to-earth, fun and accessible, and we believe that honesty and authenticity will naturally translate into profit. In that sense, our restaurant embodies the spirit of Rotterdam. We tell everyone: “nice to see you again”, and we mean it. Everything we do is about sincere attention, so it’s no surprise that our repeat customer rate is almost 50%. That’s very high, and I believe it’s the result of how we treat people.
The core idea behind the concept is getting patrons to see and feel our accessibility and authenticity. On top of that, we strive to be as sustainable as possible, serving the food of the future. All our food has a verifiable provenance: we know exactly where everything came from and all our plates are made to order, as our aim is to become zero-waste. We have something for everyone: whether you’re a big eater or a small eater and whether you’re living it large or living on a budget. Everyone will find exactly what they’re looking for at 21 Pinchos. We see our restaurant as a living room of sorts, and we wanted our interior to reflect this. The space is open and uncluttered, with sleek, warm furnishing and, thanks to The Silk Company, a natural touch. We have two branches, both of which exude exactly the feeling we want them to.
In 2019, we started our adventure in the Fenix warehouse with a clear idea. People want to spend time together and interact with others in a vibrant environment. In other words: it’s not all about the food. In fact, you don’t have to come here for the food at all. Many of our patrons come for a drink or, so to speak, to work on their taxes while enjoying a cup of coffee. We’ve managed to create a place that appeals to people, that draws them in, and that’s exactly what we had in mind. Our Pinchos menu and the ingredients we use played an important role in this, because all our dishes are reasonably priced, freshly made and of the highest possible quality. On top of that, healthy living is very important to us. We also train our staff, but make sure not to overdo it. I’d probably call it coaching, more than anything. Above all, we make sure that our top talent stays authentic, whilst still treating our guests the ‘21 Pinchos way’.
That’s how we managed to create our perfect atmosphere. It helps that we occupy the best spot on the quay when it comes to sunset views. In fact, some of our patrons come especially to watch the sun set, and they’ll happily stay here till 1 am. The atmosphere we create, the menu we serve and the way we engage with people creates ambassadors for our brand. They’re our primary form of ‘marketing and communication’. We’ve also got a social media presence, of course, and we post the occasional photo or video, but word of mouth is by far our biggest ‘social channel’. Ultimately, we want to be top of mind for everyone, and we’ve come a long way. Most of our patrons love it here and share their positive experiences, a bit like an oil slick. Honesty and sincerity go a long way, especially when there’s some Rotterdam wit to accompany them.
René van Gool
We like knowing that we can rely on our partners. Business-wise, it’s all picture perfect. A deal is a deal. We like that about The Silk Company. They always contribute their own ideas and you can tell that Martijn and his team are passionate about what they do, which is why I happily let him do his thing. The green walls they created for us are beautiful. They don’t require any maintenance but still draw a lot of attention. They’re real natural works of art, that combination really appeals to us and our guests. We ended up giving the walls our own little twist by hanging paintings from them, which has really embedded them into our interior. Besides, they’ve been tremendously beneficial for the overall acoustics of the building. Craftsmanship means taking your craft seriously, and this certainly applies to The Silk Company.
We’re very happy with our partners. With the city of Rotterdam. With degree programmes in our beautiful city. And with The Silk Company. And we mustn’t forget our patrons, of course. It would be remiss of me to leave out how the city of Rotterdam helped us get through the corona crisis. We doubled the patio area and received excellent support. Praise where praise is due: municipalities and city boards don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. I’m a proud Rotterdammer, proud of the city and proud of the restaurant.”
21 Pinchos - Rotterdam Market Hall
DS Jan Scharpstraat 298
3011 GZ Rotterdam
21 Pinchos - Rotterdam Fenix Warehouse
Nico Koomanskade 1024
3072 LM Rotterdam
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