Favourite spot

Omar Waseq: the steps at the Leidsche Veer

Prominent Utrechters talking about their favourite spots in the city. This month: Omar Waseq, owner of theatre café Teatro and the Cheese bar, talking about the ‘skate steps’ at the Leidsche Veer.

So, the steps at the Leidsche Veer?
‘This is where I still come to meet my skateboard mates after work. I’ve been skateboarding for 22 years, since I was 11. I even took part in the Dutch skateboarding championships. It’s more like fossil championships these day though! The stairs are in a great spot, right in the sun on summer evenings. And you see thousands of cyclists biking past on the cycle path next to them. It makes me realise just how diverse the inhabitants of this city are.’

Biggest letdown?
‘I really hate day-trippers who don’t care about the standards of behaviour in nightlife venues, making ignorant remarks about queer people, for instance. As the owner of Teatro, I come across them a lot. I sometimes organise drag shows in my theatre café on Oudegracht, where I want everyone to feel safe. Transvestites on the pavement outside on those evenings often get verbally abused. I can’t just ignore this. I go after the abusers and confront them further up the street, so my guests don’t have to witness it. “You’re pathetic,” I say. “What is the point?” They’re usually too scared to say anything back.’

Guilty pleasure?
‘Drinking a Palmpje (beer) at Jan de Winter on Oudegracht. It’s one of those typical old-fashioned brown bars with room for 12 customers at the most. Time seems to have stood still since the 1970s. There’s nothing trendy about it and there’s a sweet Belgian woman behind the bar, who takes your order in a soft, sultry voice. Nobody is staring at their phone. It’s such a huge contrast with the rest of the fast-moving hospitality sector in Utrecht, which I suppose my Cheese bar on Lijnmarkt is too. That’s why I like going to Jan de Winter, to get away from it all.’

Best memory?
‘The first time I met my wife in Het Weerbericht bar on Biltstraat, where a mutual friend was having a birthday party. I spent the whole evening talking to Liza Sophie and was totally smitten. But when I came back from the toilet, she’d gone off in a taxi. I was gobsmacked: had I done something wrong? I met her again three years later. It turned out that she’d had a boyfriend at the time so she left. We’re married now, with a two-year-old daughter.’

Favourite food?
‘Papi’s Comfort Kitchen brunch and lunch cafés. Both branches are run by two English people and an American, who all know how to cook. Their tacos are delicious, but the Sandwich Cubano packed full of meat is their signature dish. This carnivorous snack is my favourite weekend breakfast after a long, night spent working.’

 Last thing you saw/heard?
‘I booked the Kunstgebit and Klokpack6ix collectives for Teatro. They’re going to make it! They are groups of musicians, artists and singers, who experiment with new music genres such as hip-hop-type tones and emo-punk, in homemade, sometimes very scanty costumes. At times like this I think: what a great place I live in, a place where all this is possible. It couldn’t be less like Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, where I fled from with my family when I was five.’

Recently discovered?
‘I might be getting ahead of myself, but I’m opening a new club in Utrecht next March. The location’s still a secret. It will be called Kabul à gogo, a reference to 1960s Kabul, when the city was a hippy paradise. The idea is to have a food court with 13 kitchens serving food from sea containers. There’ll also be rooms for gigs and club evenings. The nightlife options in Utrecht are a bit limited, so I hope Kabul à gogo will be a welcome addition.’


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