From TU student to pub owner

Opening a brand-new pub at the age of 22 isn’t typical student behaviour. But Marijke Vuik knew what she wanted, and eleven years ago she founded Doerak – a fixture in Delft.

Marijke Vuik: ‘I studied Industrial Design, but I already knew my heart was in catering’. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)
Marijke Vuik: ‘I studied Industrial Design, but I already knew my heart was in catering’. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

Name: Marijke Vuik
Business: Doerak, Het Klooster and Flink Gegist
Founded in: 2006
Product: Beer café
Mission: To create a pleasant venue with a range of beers
Turnover: "I'd rather that wasn't published."
In five years' time: "Our selection will change, but that's it."


The large windows of the Doerak beer café look out onto the Vrouw Juttenland canal. Next to cosy vintage shops and a tobacconist's, everyone can find their perfect drink on a menu that features 200 special beers. Doerak is popular with students, families and singles; a real pub. In fact, it fits into the street so well, you'd think it had been there for hundreds of years.

Nothing could be less true, however: eleven years ago, this was a vegetarian restaurant with a purple and gold façade. Business was going badly and the building was sold. Marijke Vuik seized her chance. "I could see just how I wanted to renovate it," she explains. Vuik was only 22 at the time. "Perhaps I was a bit naïve. I did all of the renovations myself with friends. It gave me such a kick! In those first weeks I worked 80 hours a week, fuelled by adrenaline alone."

Degree
In fact, Vuik was still studying at the time. "I studied Industrial Design: a great degree, but I soon realised that my heart was in catering. I'd always worked in cafés alongside my studies, such as Oude Jan and Kobus Kuch. When this opportunity came, I couldn't pass it up." She was in her fifth year and still had a few courses to pass before graduating. "I thought I'd be able to complete everything after the renovations, but starting my own business gave me such a kick that I opened straight away." So she never did finish her degree.

Things went well from day one and the success continued. Doerak was renovated once more to create additional space, but it is still often jam-packed. Vuik opened a shop selling special beer, Flink Gegist, 4.5 years ago.

Across the canal, she took over café 't Klooster and renovated it into Het Klooster, another beer café. This brand new café opened in March. Besides the café's, Vuik opened a shop selling special beer, Flink Gegist, 4.5 years ago.

"Customers often asked me where they could buy beer to drink at home, and I had send them to Amsterdam. At a certain point, I opened my own shop, where we offer a selection of 800 beers."

Coffee beer
Besides Flink Gegist, Doerak and Het Klooster, each year Vuik organises the Winter Beer Festival in Lijm and Cultuur and, as of this year, also the Coffee Festival on Doelenplein. "I ended up doing that by accident. We were at the coffee festival last year selling coffee beer and there was such a great atmosphere! When I heard that the organiser was stopping, I thought it was such a shame that I took over. The festival is relatively small and doesn't really fit with Doerak, but I think that coffee is a fantastic product."

Nevertheless, Vuik is unlikely to be opening a hip coffee tent any time soon. "There's a big difference between day and night catering. You have different expectations, both from the waiting and bar staff and from the customers. The pub's fantastic, the people who come here, the atmosphere you can create…" The Doerak won't be changing much in future. "We'll probably change the selection, because there are so many beers on the market. Aside from that, business is good."

This article was originally published in Delft Outlook, the alumni magazine of TU Delft.