D'n Berenpot, Nieuwkuijk

| Vittoria Roitero

Never thought I would ever go to a pancake restaurant at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning. Although some would love a pancake for breakfast, that is not the purpose of my visit. I have an appointment with Nico Hoenen, since March 2023 the owner of pancake restaurant D'n Berepot in Nieuwkuijk. This cozy restaurant is familiar territory for me. As a born and raised Drunense, I regularly come there for a bite to eat.

The kitchen is closed on Tuesdays. Yet upon entering, you can smell a subtle smell of pancakes. The many bears in the restaurant also greet me with their beady little eyes. As always, it feels familiar to step inside here. The only thing missing now is the cozy cacophony that comes with a pancake restaurant. But that silence is broken by Nico, who welcomes me and offers me something to drink.

With a cup of coffee, we sit down at a table by the window. I am curious to know how Nico has fared in the first few months as the new owner of this pancake restaurant, which is surely a household name in the region. "I like it very much. At first I just started in the way the previous owners did it and slowly I am making it a little bit more my own." Nico says he is very happy with the staff he was also able to take over with him. "It is an enthusiastic young club of people with a positive attitude and of course the necessary knowledge" he says.

In the beginning, Dominique, my wife, helped to manage the service in the restaurant, but that was difficult to combine with her job as a teacher at a secondary school in Utrecht. We saw potential and responsibility in a few employees to coordinate the service themselves and it's going very well. They take their responsibilities very seriously and are currently even developing a training course with tips and tricks for the serving staff," Nico says proudly. Dominique is now mainly busy in the background with social media, administrative and DTP work.

To keep their employees involved and reward them for their commitment and enthusiasm, Nico and Dominique think it is important to arrange regular parties and outings. "That is very much appreciated. It ensures that people like to keep working here and it promotes a pleasant atmosphere in the team."

Nico lets me know that his first side job also used to be at a pancake restaurant. "From then on, I cried out that if I ever started for myself, I would want to run a pancake restaurant." In 2020 Nico cut the knot; that boyhood dream just had to come true. He started looking for a suitable location. In March 2022, he saw that D'n Berepot in Nieuwkuijk was for sale and less than a year later he had the key to his own restaurant.

Nico and his family moved from Utrecht to the upstairs apartment of the restaurant in Nieuwkuijk. So far, they like the Brabant life very much, as well as running a pancake restaurant: "What I like about it is that it is so easily accessible. Almost everyone likes pancakes and it's an affordable way to eat out." Nico explains. Nico is also happy with the regular visitors who have been coming there for years. "We have many guests who came here as children and now come in turn to eat with their families. They love the cozy interior of the restaurant and greatly appreciate the artisanally prepared pancakes." Nico hadn't realized that at first at all. For example, he originally wanted a carousel in the kitchen, but in the past few months he has experienced the charm of the artisanally prepared pancake. "I, like my guests, really see the added value of it. So, on second thought, we will continue to bake pancakes at the stove."

Meanwhile, we walk behind the bar to the kitchen. I see a giant stove with 18 burners and 18 pans on it. Nico explains that they normally have two cooks here, but sometimes they are alone. Incredibly, I sometimes get stressed if I have to keep an eye on four pans before dinner. Nico doesn't shy away from it. I also employ two top chefs who feel right at home behind this stove, and the next generation of bakers is already waiting to be trained by us," he says.

I ask Nico what he has changed in recent months. "Unlike the previous owner, we are active on social media. We believe it's a fun way to stay in touch with guests. In addition, we make part of the restaurant available for parties up to about 60 people." Almost anything is negotiable, according to Nico, from a children's party with bouncy castle to a party night with DJ and a smoke machine. "Other than that, we haven't changed that much. The restaurant was running well, so why change much. We kept the gift system for the children's pancakes. So we don't work with a savings system, but after eating a children's pancake a gift may be picked out immediately. The interior may change slightly here and there, but it will not be rigorous, nor for the next few years. The bears will remain and the cozy atmosphere will be maintained. But I do think it will be fun to put my own spin on it over time."

"Oh well, we are also an 'approved apprenticeship company.' The first applications for an internship with us are already in, so that's great." Nico tells me he has a lot of experience training hospitality staff. "During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I had the opportunity to recruit and train hospitality staff for the stadiums with a team of hospitality professionals from the Netherlands. At the time, we screened and trained over 7,000 locals. That was quite a job, but an incredibly fun and unforgettable experience." So D'n Berepot's staff and future trainees are in good hands with Nico.

I could go on chatting with Nico, as enthusiastic as he is. But it's already time to wrap up. I will come back soon, when the kitchen is open. Are you looking for a pancake restaurant near Den Bosch, fortified city Heusden, De Efteling or De Loonse en Drunense Duinen? Then I definitely recommend a visit to D'n Berepot in Nieuwkuijk. With traditionally baked pancakes, a friendly atmosphere and cozy decor, D'n Berepot is the ideal place to eat out with your kids, your whole family or your group of friends.

Want to know more about D'n Berepot? Then click here.

Stay tuned for all the news!

There is plenty to see and experience in De Langstraat. Read about it in our inspiration magazine.

The magazine is available for free at numerous hospitality venues in the region and our TIPs.

Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.