Pearl of The Langstraat: De Financiën, Loon op Zand

| Vittoria Roitero

On a drizzly Thursday morning I drive to my appointment at Pancake Restaurant De Financiën in Loon op Zand. As I drive past the Efteling my navigation indicates that I will be there in just 4 minutes. Of course I knew it was close to Efteling, but I didn't expect to be that close!

As soon as I enter the spacious parking lot, Maarten van Son, with whom I have an appointment, has already spotted me. He holds a door open for me so I can quickly run inside through the rain. Suddenly I am in a large kitchen. "This is the artist's entrance" jokes Maarten.

We find a seat in the cozy restaurant and Maarten asks me what all I want to know about him. First of all, I ask about the origin of the name 'De Financiën'. No doubt there will be a logical reason for that? "Yes, there is a very good reason for that" Maarten explains. "The restaurant is located on the connecting road between Belgium and The WhiteCastle in Loon op Zand. Especially in the French era, tolls were often levied on this type of road. Sometimes up to 6 times on a small stretch. It could get pretty expensive. Around 1900 a catering establishment arose along the road, 'De Finantie'. A fitting name for a small cafe along a toll road. Later this name was changed slightly."

But a small cafe is long gone, I note. "True, in 1976 my father took over the premises and since then it has grown tremendously" Maarten continues his story. "There was soon a demand for a party room for larger parties. Drinks and small bites soon proved insufficient, so a cook was appointed and a miniature golf course and a large playground were built especially for the children at this beautiful spot in Loon op Zand. This turned out to be a very big success."

Maarten has been active in his father's business since he was a teenager. After completing his education, however, he opted for an office job elsewhere. "But that wasn't it for me anyway, in 2002 I decided to come back," he said. He took over restaurant De Financiën from his father and planned a major renovation in 2018. "We moved the main entrance and terrace from the street side to the back. Because it's no longer directly along the busy road, (grand)parents can enjoy their drinks with peace of mind while the kids have fun in the playground."

De Financiën has become a child-friendly restaurant, fun for three generations. A real family restaurant with various activities for young and old. I look around and can totally see it: grandpas and grandmas coming in for a cup of coffee during their babysitting day. Families with children in various age groups who can find something for everyone here; soccer, miniature golf, climbing and scrambling, trampolining, you name it. The youngest children play in the toddler corner or listen to a story with Fientje, the mascot. "Fientje the butterfly 'arrived' in 2016, when we celebrated 40 years of existence. She was given the task of entertaining the children in the kids club and has not been away since."

Martin tells me he is proud of his entire team, which consists of about 80 employees. It's a really nice team, with a lot of young, inquisitive people. Many work there to earn a little extra on top of their studies. "I feel very strongly about hospitality and encourage my employees to keep growing and developing in it." says Martin, who meanwhile shows me a list of reviews. "The most important thing is that our guests go home with positive memories."

In addition to mascot Fientje and the many enthusiastic employees, Maarten also employs two robots. "Look, these are Fr@ [Fred] and Flor@ [Floret]" says Maarten as he shows me two almost identical robots. "They are not here to replace, but to support the staff." Explains Maarten. He explains that Fr@ can bring pancakes to the tables so larger groups can eat at the same time. Flor@ is happy to help clear the tables and bring huge amounts of dirty dishes to the sink with ease. "Our employees have more time for a chat with the guests as a result," Martin lets us know. Handy say, and I can also imagine that children who come to eat here find the robots incredibly fun.

And that's not the only thing children like at De Financiën. Maarten tells me about their savings system. With every children's pancake, the little guest receives coins with which they can immediately select a small gift in the store. But of course they can also continue saving for a larger gift. "And at the moment we have a great Lego action with our own Lego dolls" Maarten tells me enthusiastically. He shows me a Lego pancake restaurant, complete with a pancake baker, a waiter, a stove, etc. I even see a mini van of powdered sugar. With a Lego pancake, you get the first part of the set the first period, and the other part a few weeks later. Per pancake, you also receive a discount voucher for the restaurant house which eventually completes the set. How cool is that?

It has stopped raining, so Maarten takes me outside a bit more. From the large terrace - with 325 seats - you have a view of the huge playground with brand new playground equipment, a soccer field and a miniature golf course. Nice and clear when you have smaller children. I also see a nice outdoor bar that is open in good weather. What a nice place this is.

It is clear to me that Maarten is an entrepreneur pur sang. Always looking for the best for his guests and for his staff. We could have chatted some more about this beautiful family restaurant, but it is already time to say goodbye. Undoubtedly, I will return sometime soon. After all, I have a few pancake fans at home and I really think this Lego promotion is too much fun to pass up!

If you're looking for fun activities to do with kids, this restaurant in Loon op Zand is the place to be.Pancake Restaurant De Financiën is minutes away from the Efteling and De Loonse en Drunense Duinen. It is the ideal place to eat out after a day at Efteling or to recover from a bike ride or hike through De Loonse en Drunense Duinen.

Want to know more about this Burgundian, Brabant family restaurant? Then click here. Visit our route page if you are looking for walking or cycling routes near Loon op Zand.

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