03 December 2009


Pulpo Restaurant, Amsterdam

It didn't take long for us to find our now-regular neighborhood dinner joint. Passing by, Pulpo was a plain-looking restaurant but what caught my eye was the tidy casualness of the place. Everything on the counters, tables and decorated windowsills were orderly. Upon entering for our first meal, we were enthusiastically greeted with: "Hi, I'm Robert. Welcome." That was the first of many evenings where we would spend, giving our kitchen a rest and our feet a pleasant, crisp walk.

We were seated by the window with a view of the outdoor diners and the roundabout that showcased a tram stop and plenty of passerby. Robert would continually, and jovially, embrace us whenever we went there. In fact, going there began reminding me of the "Cheer's" TV show theme song, "...where everybody knows your name."

Robert would be folding napkins before dinner service started, seating and setting, clearing, taking orders, and settling the bills during. It wasn't until one night that he was seated at a table with friends (it was late by then) that we witnessed them polish off a bottle of limoncello liquor. At first it was unsettling for me because he was on the clock and drinking. How was that charge going to be settled? What would the owner think?

He approached our table and we caught up with each other. We commented on how great it is to have locals come in regularly. I finally asked who the owner of the restaurant was and he shyly, timidly answered, "I am." I was shocked.

All of those times that we came in, he hustled and delivered like a sergeant, only warmer. I had thought that he was a manager! I was wrong. Pulpo was, and remains, his. Seeing an owner of any business dig in and work the trade is rare and commendable. He doesn't advertise that he's the owner because he doesn't feel it's important. One can also sense the camaraderie between him and his team. Robert comes from a family of restaurant owners and managers and he himself worked in various establishments in and out of Holland. His passion and discipline to get things done, and done well, are a testament to Pulpo's reputation with the locals and why I now refer to Pulpo as "Cheers."

Pulpo Restaurant I www.restaurant-pulpo.nl I Willemsparkweg 87, Amsterdam I +31 (0)20 6760 700

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