The Amstelpark. Perhaps the nicest park in Amsterdam, even though it’s not very well known. The same could be said about event venue Rosarium and restaurant Parker’s, just as beautiful as the park and also flying under the radar.
The large oval Park Lounge at the Rosarium offers a nice view of the pedestrian-only Amstelpark. It is spring and the first rose buds are rearing their heads. Owner Maarten van Eembergen welcomes me. “Apologies for my outfit; there was some DIY work at home that needed my attention”, Maarten starts. He’s wearing a neat pair of jeans and a smart shirt while his employees look immaculate in suit and tie.
“I used to dedicate all my time to this business until my wife told me about the importance of work-life balance”, the 45-year old laughs. It just shows how much he cares about Rosarium, the business his parents started in 1973.
‘Rosarium is a full-service events venue’
Rosarium is a family business
When he took over in 2011, Maarten had already spent a lot of time at this event location close to the A10 ring-road and the Zuidas. “My parents built something beautiful from scratch. They completely renovated the Rosarium after the old place was severely damaged by a fire in 1996. I’m the only family member working here but this still feels like a family business. We’re a very close-knit team”, Maarten says.
“Rosarium is a full-service events venue. We like to keep our classy image but we won’t hesitate to make adjustments in order to cater to the client’s needs. If that means temporarily replacing our furniture with bean bags, poufs or hammocks, we’ll do it.”
During the day, Rosarium is a perfect location for meetings, congresses and presentations. “Around 6 p.m. the team starts to prepare for the evening shift with private dining (from 8 to 350 people), receptions and parties. In the weekends we mostly have weddings and private parties,” Maarten explains.
“Our restaurant, Parker’s, occupies only a small part of our premises but it is our showroom and food lab. We serve exquisite dishes that demonstrate what our chefs are capable of. During events we provide all the catering as well: from sit-down dinners to walking dinners, from exclusive fine dining to delicious bites. Not the standard snacks you find elsewhere, although we do serve a very good bitterbal as well.”
However, restaurant Parker’s is not their core business. “People visiting the park are welcome for lunch or dinner or for drinks in our wine bar but they’re not our target audience. We rather focus on events as that’s what we’re really good at.”
‘We want to deliver real quality in all aspects: food & beverage, atmosphere and service’
The management team Maarten has put together does a fantastic job. A chef with a passion for both à la carte dining and large groups, an operations manager who’s equally well-versed in the restaurant and event side of things and two sales managers with an impressive track record.
“I’ve deliberately kept the team small as I like short lines. Every new recruit will spend some time in every department in order to get to know our business. This way they’ll be more understanding and supportive of their colleagues and that’s what makes the difference between good and excellent.”
Rosarium is a breeding ground for talent, Maarten says. “Usually, after four or five years people move on. A lot of our former employees now work in a Michelin-star restaurant. I see it as a great compliment.”
Every event is taken care off
It’s a challenge to get every little detail right. “We sit down with the client and discuss what they need. How many guests do they expect to be there? Is it a formal or informal gathering? If company branding or exposure is important we’ll arrange the right colour setting and we’ll serve dishes that match the character of the event.”
Maarten prefers parties and events with 200 to 350 guests. “We are able to do bigger events that as well as all our rooms are interconnected, but we want to focus on quality in all aspects: food & beverage, atmosphere and service.”
Over the years Maarten has seen quite a few changes. Plenary sessions for 200 people are rare these days. The programme needs to be dynamic and interactive. “We have ten break-out rooms that can be used for sub-sessions. That allows for a much more personal event, with better contact between speakers and participants.”
Breakfast seminars are popular as well. “We often receive requests for very early meetings. We provide an extensive breakfast our guests can enjoy whilst working or networking.”
Maarten explains that he’s looking at improving the location rather than building a new extension. “There are plenty of opportunities to make better use of the existing rooms by upgrading them. For example, the club downstairs is a work in progress. After the summer months it’ll be a stylish lounge club, but only for private parties and drinks.”
At the end of my visit Maarten suddenly stops in his tracks. “Do you see this?” he says, pointing to a tiny scratch on a door. “I don’t like this. Everything should be spic and span. Maintenance is a high priority here; it comes with the quality we aim to deliver.”
There’s a good chance the DIY work at his home will have to wait a while… first things first!
Amstelpark 1, Europaboulevard
T 020 644 4085