Pearl of De Langstraat: De Emmamolen, Nieuwkuijk

| Vittoria Roitero

On a sunny Tuesday morning in March, I visit De Emmamolen in Nieuwkuijk. An 1886 mill named after Queen Emma. I remember the mill from my childhood, as a landmark during a bike ride or walk. When as a little girl I 'hobbled' through the polder behind my parents - and had no idea exactly where we were - I knew when I saw De Emmamolen that we were 'almost home' again.

I drive into the parking lot recently constructed by Gemeente Heusden. Nice, such a nice spacious parking lot in front of the house. From the parking lot I can already see the Emma Mill shining in the sunshine. Stately - as befits a queen - looking out over the vast polder on the other side of the road.

Upon entering I am greeted by Joost van Eijk, with whom I have an appointment. Joost has been co-owner for five years, together with his business partner Lars van de Wiel. Joost and Lars met years ago when they were both working in the hospitality industry in 's-Hertogenbosch. They became friends and soon the dream arose to one day run something together, Joost says. "One beautiful summer day we ended up on the terrace of De Emmamolen and agreed with each other "if something like this comes our way then we'll go for it." Three years later De Emmamolen came up for sale and the two enterprising young men did not hesitate for a moment. "After a little renovation and some painting, we started on March 2, 2018," says Joost. Joost looks back.

Suddenly, Joost and Lars were owners of a catering business. From the beginning they have been open seven days a week from 10:00 am - 10:00 pm. That's pretty spicy it seems, it must take a big team. "That's right, we have a very nice team that we are extremely proud of. Fortunately, despite the corona crisis, we were able to keep everyone on board. I would have been really upset if that hadn't worked out." says Joost.

So now they can bang on with the familiar team again. The restaurant is pretty full for both lunch and dinner and when the weather is nice, the large terrace is still too small. De Emmamolen is located on a popular cycling and walking route so especially on nice, sunny days there is no lack of passers-by. "They also easily linger for lunch after a few drinks. Dinner is another story, which Joost and Lars did have to promote a bit more actively. "It took a while before it became known that we also have a dinner menu, but now that is also running better and better" Joost indicates.

I asked Joost which target group they focus on. "That is really very diverse. During the week we may welcome mostly pensionados during the day. On weekends and for dinner, many thirty-somethings and forty-somethings also know how to find us for drinks with friends or dinner." I glance at the menu and see that there is something for everyone. Classic dishes such as the 12 o'clock and the bacon are interspersed with contemporary dishes such as a vegetarian couscous and an avocado burger. The littlest customers can feast on the "Happy Mill" children's menu.

Joost takes me for a peek into the kitchen, which was recently remodeled. "We were really short of space, now our cooks have more room to move around and more modern equipment." Via a wooden staircase in the restaurant, we then enter the second floor of the (seven-story) mill. "This is actually the miller's yard" indicates Joost. There is flour stored and props, such as a huge scale and a beautiful old speculoos machine. We hear someone coming up the stairs. It turns out to be baker Erik, who has come to fetch flour for Bakhuys Emma. We immediately walk with Erik to take a look over there as well. The smell of freshly baked bread wafts towards me and I meet Kees van Buul, the miller and former owner of De Emmamolen. Kees currently runs Bakhuys Emma, a bakery store whose bread is also served at De Emmamolen. In passing, Kees tells me that he hobbyistically brews beer with a few friends. Joost lets me know that that hobby is a little more serious than I initially understood: "Their home-brewed tripel is one of our runners-up."

And then it's already time to say goodbye. Outside, I briefly admire the old windmills that have been placed horizontally along the terrace as a sort of "balustrade. A nice piece of history, nice to see.

I promise Joost that I will definitely return one day to taste - preferably on the lovely terrace - that miller's beer!

Click here for more information about the Emma Mill.

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