Horecastel Janick (32) and Leoni (29) both returned home to Groningen. From star restaurants in Antwerp and Melbourne to their very own: Niemeijer

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For years past they have scoured the best restaurants around the world. And now Leoni (29) and Janick Nijmeijer (32) are “home” again. They started their first restaurant together on the Akerkstraat in Groningen. “The distribution is quite traditional with us.”

Tobacco factory Niemeyer hasn’t lifted its heel yet or Groningen already has a new Niemeijer. Niemeijer Restaurant, named after the family of chef Janick Niemeijer (32), because he is “proud of his name”. And yes, he says, “It’s also good that he’s leaving the tobacconist and Niemeijer’s new comeback.”

He and his wife Leonie, 29, are working at their new business on the Akerkstraat. Now there is nothing, the “bistronomic” should be finished in June. With a green tile exterior, gold detailing, and a modern look, No. 22 is a special take on a street full of traditional architectural styles.

The building – designed by Amsterdam-based architecture firm Prast & Hooft – was built in 2020 and shortly thereafter won the Groninger Architecture Prize. Problem: The ground floor, which is used for catering, has not been used for a long time. Until now, now that Janick and Leonie are brandishing wands together they are in their own business. “We’d prefer to always be together, so I think it makes sense to work together,” Janick says.

Niemeijer’s traditional division

He came from Gittin, and she is from Montendam. In 2011, they met during Queen’s Night in Stadskanaal and have practically not separated since then. “At the beginning of our relationship I worked in Scheveningen and then in Amsterdam. Leonie did hotel school. But she stopped doing that when she moved to Zeeland. The distance became too much, so she also came to Zeeland.”

This was followed by years in Antwerp, Harderwijk, Australia and finally “home” again. The two now live with their son Zana (two months) and daughter Noa (two years old) in Jasilti.

There, Janick — in addition to being a chef and beekeeper — has seven bee colonies to make their own honey. On his sister’s farm there is a vegetable garden where they grow vegetables, flowers and herbs for the restaurant. He will soon be a chef at Niemeijer, and she will be the hostess and take care of the wine. “Yeah, that’s quite a traditional split,” Leoni says.

Long resume of the best restaurants

He has already worked on Oud Sluis in Zeeland, The Jane in Antwerp, ‘t Nonnetje in Harderwijk and La Rive in Amsterdam. She is at Graanmarkt 13 in Antwerp, Ratatouille in Harderwijk and De List in Wassen. Both worked at Vue de Monde in Melbourne (Australia), Loohoeve in Schoonloo and Noor in Groningen. Almost all major restaurants, most of which have a Michelin star or at least have a Michelin star.

But don’t assume that means Groningen now automatically has a restaurant that contends for stars and mention. Janick: “We often wonder if the goal is to turn this into a real restaurant. But what’s the best restaurant? If we’re filling up every night and cooking really well, I think we’re already there.”

16 to 18 hours a day is normal

Do they find it sexy too? Yes, it instantly sounds in unison. But it had been haunting their minds for a long time to start something themselves. This is what they wanted when they returned after a year traveling across Australia. “It was a lot of fun working with all these top chefs, but sometimes it wasn’t like that at all. It’s very hard work, 4-6pm days are very common. I don’t mind it at all, but if you think about it, it’s It’s not really normal,” says Janick. It is not his intention to do it this way in Groningen.

“I’ve noticed that there’s a shift in the hospitality industry and we’re saying goodbye to those long working days,” says Janik. “There are not enough employees, so if you treat your employees badly, they will get another job in no time. That is why you have to adjust your way of working so that the dishes are good, but less difficult.”

Small menu with special vegetables and Groningen specialities

What kind of dishes can be eaten at Niemeijer? “We will work a la carte, with a small menu: three or four dishes to choose from. I like to cook with special products, such as haddock. I feel like doing a lot with vegetables from the vegetable garden and honey, and I think it would be interesting to work with typical Groningen dishes such as truffles Eggs, currant knitting, dry sausages. There are many fine dishes and products in Groningen, and it would be a shame not to do anything with them.”

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