Basis is a bring-your-own-food bar that recently opened in Amsterdam, in response to the crisis currently affecting the Dutch capital. Over the last two years, 10% of Amsterdam’s cafés have closed down, but its cool concept actually makes Basis Bar a profitable business.
The Netherlands appeared to be handling the economic crisis quite well, when it first descended over Europe, but now, after the old government collapsed due to disagreements over budget cuts, there are increasing signs of an economic downturn. A group of young entrepreneurs anticipated the precarious financial situation of their country, and came up with a great concept that allows people to still afford to eat out, without having to break the bank. The Basis Bar allows its customers to bring their own food, either cooked at home or ordered from cheaper eateries, like pizzerias. The bar provides everything from dishes, cutlery and napkins, to microwave ovens where people can heat up their food. All they have to pay for is the drinks they order.
The guys behind Basis used to work in the catering industry, and although they thought it was fun, it was also very limited, because they couldn’t create the kind of relaxed atmosphere they wanted, where people could feel they could do whatever they like. “That’s what we want people to feel like,” says Michiel Zwart, one of the young entrepreneurs who created the Basis Bar. He says at first people are a bit confused, but after he and his colleagues explain the concept to them, they become enthusiastic about it. In the five months since Basis opened, it has managed to become one of the most popular venues in Amsterdam.
Eating at a restaurant in the Dutch capital costs at least €20, and that’s just a food course, while at the Basis Bar, people can still enjoy the experience of eating out by paying much less for a drink. Some of them bring simple home-made food, but there are those who prepare their own sushi, lasagna bolognese and even cheese fondue. And if you can’t cook, there’s a list of take-out restaurants at the bar where you can order a pizza or whatever else you like. “People don’t have extra money to eat out any more, so we have tried to make it easy so they can still come out and spend an evening with their friends but not have to pay such a high price for food,” Zwat says.
Basis (which translates as ‘basic’) has been teeming with Dutch diners determined not to let something as meaningless as the economic crisis disrupt their social life. It allows people to eat out cheap and proves you don’t need a lot of money to get out and enjoy a meal with friends.