Liset Burrie & Jørgen Wilbers | ROOTS
Along the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam Oud Zuid, just a short walk from the Vondelpark, you'll find
, an inviting,
beautifully decorated, foodie haven for both the curious and the health enthusiasts. Fueled by a passion to share their interest in food and healthy living, Liset Burrie and Jørgen
Wilbers opened ROOTS in just a few months and now serve cold pressed juices and organic and seasonal meals, with a side of healthy living advice if you're
interested. "Vitality to go" they call it and it couldn't be more true. We stopped by on a cold winter morning and talked about this adventure and their plans for the future
while sipping steaming cups of fresh ginger tea.
Can you tell us about yourselves?
Liset: I worked behind the scenes as a production manager for a few years, but wanted to do something else. I’d had an interest in food for a while, and being gluten intolerant had drastically changed my eating patterns. But adapting what I ate also meant I had much more energy and so about a year ago, I remember telling Jørgen: I’m actually really interested in food; maybe I should do a course in food coaching? So I did.
Jørgen: I spent the last few years in the Marine Corps - I traveled all over and had been in Aruba for a while before coming back to the Netherlands. I was really fit and enjoyed keeping in shape, which led to an interest in the food I ate. It was when I came back from Aruba that I met Liset. In my last year at the Marine Corps there wasn’t much more for me to do; I knew that my time was up; that I’d done everything I wanted. I was up for something new and thought it a logical step to get into fitness and sport since Liset was working with food.
So how did ROOTS come to be?
Jørgen: Last June we were sitting at the dining table and I asked her, “What are you going to do when you’ve finished your course? What do you want to do?” Then one day we went on a long walk and passed by this storefront that was for rent. It had been a daycare center and we thought, wow, what a great space, imagine if we opened something here. We knew we had to do something about it. Two days later Liset called me at work. I was cleaning weapons actually, and she asked whether I could take the day off tomorrow – that we could check out the place. So I did, and from there, there was no turning back.
Liset: We wanted to create a place where people would like to come for delicious healthy food and drinks, and eventually we’d work in the dietary and fitness advice, something we believe people would really benefit from to help live healthy lives.
Was it a long process before you were able to open up shop?
Jørgen: After we saw the place we knew we wanted it. But there were five other initiatives that wanted to start something there too, so we were asked to present a plan, a one-pager, on what we wanted to achieve. We won them over! We were so excited and then it dawned on us: Fuck. Now what?
Liset: We didn’t have funding or a business plan but a friend helped us to put a plan together in a week. At the time there were a few juice bars in The Netherlands, but none of them did cold press juices so we couldn’t ask anyone for advice. Plus Jørgen was still at work; his contract would only end in July 2015. Luckily, he was able to get out his contract, which is pretty rare. So we came up with the idea in June and got the keys on the 1st of August. In about six weeks, we had to figure out the interior, work out deliveries and suppliers, what we were going to do with packaging, etc.
Jørgen: We had to be incredibly creative. While Liset was organizing everything, I was here in the shop fixing it up. We made everything ourselves and looked at Pinterest mood boards to get an idea of what we wanted it to look like. It had been completely stripped so we were able to do whatever we wanted with the space. By September 16th we had to open shop because our money was running out... So we just did it, we opened! And from that moment it’s just been nonstop.
Can you tell us about the different products you sell?
Liset: Our dishes are our own recipes but inspired by cookbooks, other people/chefs and other research. Everything is healthy. So if we’re serving our own version of stamppotje for instance, we use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes to cut back on carbohydrates. We serve cold press juices, which are pressed cold and very slowly with a slow juice machine. Most people know about juice presses, but what they don’t know is because the press spins so quickly (about 12,000-20,000 knots per minute), the juice is heated and the enzymes are killed. The slow juicer turns at 60 knots per minute, so the enzymes stay alive and the juice can be kept for 72 hours. The pulp in cold press juices is so liquefied, almost like water, that your body can absorb it in 15 minutes.
What have the responses been so far?
Liset: Fantastic, everyone is so enthusiastic. People are so happy that we’re here, also in this neighborhood, that we’ve started this. We have new clients everyday who tell us how much they like the different things they’re tasted, from the juices to the salads. It’s overwhelming sometimes.
It helps that people are becoming more conscious of what they’re eating.
Liset: Yea it’s definitely something that’s catching on in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. We’re in a great neighborhood, which also helps. I don’t think we could have started something like this in Utrecht. People are starting to catch on though. And we’re more than happy to provide them with more information. A girl came in here recently and told us she wanted to changer her eating habits, but wasn’t sure what she should change. I really enjoy that part of it, helping educate people about making better choices. It's not just about selling things, our goal is to educate people.
Jørgen: A guy came up to me yesterday and was talking about this all being a trend, but that we were really making the most of. But I don’t think it’s as much a trend as it is a change in the way we think about food.
What are your plans for the future?
Liset: It’s funny, even after the first week we were open, people asked when we were going to open a second shop. I think it’s important to establish this place as best we can, so we have a good basis from which to expand. We didn’t develop this concept to make it into a chain, but if the opportunity were to arise, we’ll definitely think about it. We’re also in a relationship together, work 7 days (around 80 hours) a week. We have to be realistic. Another store means more stress, more work. If you have one store that’s going really well, you can also say, we’re going to work here a few days a week, take a few days off, have a family! Have some free time!
Jørgen: We would like to grow, maybe one more to two, three or even ten, as long as the service remains at a personal level. And not factory-style. Then it’s not fun anymore. And we would like to work in the advice, physical and dietary, so stay tuned!
Thanks Liset and Jørgen for sharing your story! ROOTS , located on the Amstelveenseweg 164, is open from Monday to Friday from 7.30 to 20.00 and Saturday from 9.30 to 18.00. Be sure to follow the couple of Facebook , Instagram and Twitter .
Text and photography by Margot van der Krogt
Edited by Hannah Fuellenkemper