It is quiet in the city centre of Dordrecht. Yet there is still plenty happening. New and existing Dordrecht entrepreneurs are still buzzing with activity, resulting in great initiatives and developments.
The lockdown and the forced closure of non-essential shops mean that there are far fewer people on the streets. Of course, like any entrepreneur, they suffer from the restrictive measures, but confidence in the future prevails. From now on, things will only get better!
Last year in May Jacob van Poppel started JAAPevents. With his sloop Mevrouw De Wit, he offers boat trips and packages through the historic inner city or the Biesbosch, suitable for all kinds of occasions ranging from team outings to bachelor parties. Coincidentally, Pim Baan found the same gap in the market and started at about the same time with Sloep Dordrecht with his Hanneken: a similar boat as Mevrouw De Wit. Long story short: the two young enthusiastic entrepreneurs, both in their early 30s, joined forces and continued under a new name: DRIJF Dordrecht.
"We will start with three boats, our old sloops supplemented by the much larger former lifeboat 't Zwarte Schaap that we have refurbished," Jacob says of the future plans. "This boat is ideally suited for somewhat larger groups. We are making arrangements with the Dordt catering industry for new arrangements such as wine tastings, lunches or drinks on board. If corona permits, we will start in April to make the most beautiful trips again in May."
After eight years in the Vriesestraat, Fier, the skate shop with a wide range of well-known brands such as OBEY, Nike and Carhartt, has recently moved to the Voorstraat 222 next to the former Berckepoort. Just like the previous location, it has been beautifully rebuilt with minimal means by Zev van Sluysdam, one of the two partners, who is also a carpenter. Arjan van Biemen is the other partner. Together with his girlfriend and newborn son, he lives above the business. It is a building to buy, so he is also his own landlord. The reason for the move has to do with this, it was about the future stability of Fier.
"A friend asked us some time ago if we could promise that Fier will always exist. If we could, he would get a tattoo of Fier. We thought it was a good question. We certainly want to do that, but how do we do it? Buying premises ourselves instead of renting was our conclusion. The new location is slightly smaller, but still beautiful and ready for the future. In recent years, we have built up a large loyal customer base who fortunately also continue to buy online. Still, we hope to organise a grand opening soon where the whole world can see what we are so proud of."
Alaa Aldeen is a famous character in the East, known in Holland as the main character in the 1001 night fairy tale Aladdin and the Miracle Lamp. With the spirit from this lamp, Aladdin can have wishes fulfilled. For Mohamad Ammar and his wife, in the Netherlands since 2015, this symbolises their brand new restaurant at Voorstraat 441: putting the most delicious Syrian dishes on the table. For the time being they are succeeding particularly well judging by the reactions of their customers and friends they often cook for. They are all enthusiastic about the Syrian cuisine with its many vegetarian dishes, the fresh products, homemade biscuits, pizzas and much more. In fact, partly on the advice of Dutch friends, they came up with the idea of starting Alaa Aldeen, the first Syrian restaurant in Dordrecht.
"In addition to ordering and picking up yourself, you can also place an order via Thuisbezorgd. We look forward to the period after Corona with confidence and full of plans. We will be open all day for breakfast, coffee and snacks, lunch and dinner. And we are going to try lots of new dishes. We will put Syria on the map of Dordrecht with love.
Shirwan Kadir missed the customers and the customers missed him. For this reason, the experienced optician opened his brand new and thoroughly renovated Optiek Dordrecht shop at Voorstraat 271 in December. In 2017, after thirteen years, he stopped working at his Specsavers branch in the city centre of Dordrecht. He has continued to teach part-time since 2004 at the Da Vinci Dordrecht optics college. And he still does, but now together with the opticians. A perfect combination, according to Kadir. "It's fantastic to be able to pass on knowledge about the profession I love and to practise it myself at the same time.
Many of my former customers have asked me in recent years when I would start again, and now the time has come. They know how to find me again. It is a difficult time to reach new customers. Many things are at a standstill while word of mouth is the most important thing in my business. Eyes are such important organs. I find it a challenge to find a solution for special situations, for example when it comes to difficult eyes or special (hard) lenses. It is great if it works out in the end. Even if it is difficult now, I consider it an ordeal. From now on it will only get better."
Since 21 January, bubble tea has been back. Surinamese-Chinese restaurant Happy Lin, at Voorstraat 282, sells no less than 18 flavours varying from strawberry and mango to chocolate. The drink, which originated in Taiwan, is characterised by the small tough balls at the bottom of the sweet drink and the foam layer on top that is created by shaking.
Bubble tea is particularly popular with young people, as it is with the three children of one of Happy Lin's employees. She tells us that her children of 18, 20 and 21 and their friends even went to Rotterdam to buy what they thought was a very tasty bubble tea. This for the simple reason that it was not available in Dordrecht. So why not offer it at Happy Lin? It is a trendy addition to the other Surinamese-Chinese dishes such as sandwiches and soups that Happy Lin sells. Due to corona, it is currently only possible to take away. This also applies to the bubble tea, of course. For € 3.50 you can enjoy a bubble tea completely tailored to your own taste.