Interview with Restaurant Kome

Category: | Published on: June 3, 2020 | By Kim Moehamad

Restaurant Kome has been open now for 7 years on Curaçao. Food lovers can daily enjoy the diverse lunch and dinner menu. What makes Kome different from all the other restaurants on the island is that the dishes are carefully arranged from the preparation of the ingredients to the presentation. Eating at Kome is an experience in itself. The restaurant is tastefully designed and the service here is on par with international four-star restaurants. Kome is a restaurant that you go to for special occasions, for business or private. In the end, you go home satisfied.

We can, therefore, say that the closing of Kome during the lockdown was a loss for many. After the lockdown was lifted, we went to visit Kome and spoke to the manager Luuk Gerrittsen.

Luuk has, with great pleasure, been the manager of Kome for 4 years now. He was born and raised in the Netherlands. He is married to an Antillean, has a daughter who is 5 years old and a dog.


Luuk, what were your thoughts when the Prime Minister announced on Match 13th 2020 that the borders were closing due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19?

We had already seen it coming. It was naïve to think that the virus would pass us, or not hit us economically. Together with the owners, we discussed the possible scenarios and how we, as a business, could respond with alternatives.

What are the consequences of the closure of the borders on your company? From having no income overnight.

With the closing of the borders, we felt that impact of it right away. In the past four years, we have seen a shift in our customers from 70% locals to 70% tourists. Especially tourists from America like to eat with us. The first two weeks were very strange. To gain a little income, we started with a Take Out & Delivery until the complete lock-down and we also had to close. The owner then spoke to all 22 employees and presented the choice to them whether they would stay or leave voluntarily. A few employees have left and meanwhile have life the island. We had, before the lockdown, employees of 9 different nationalities that was very special. The owners are very involved and are present in the restaurant every day. With our remaining employees, we try to divide the hours as much as possible so that everyone can do something.

What has changed for you, personally?

Mainly a lot of uncertainty for myself and my family. Fortunately, I have a good employer, which is nice. My partner is also lucky with her employer, financially we are okay. However, you do feel responsible for your colleagues and the owner.

We also have a daughter who is 5 and for her there is also uncertainty with regards to the opening of schools. She should be able to go to school again on the 1st of June for another month. I must say that during the lock-down I have never spent so much time with her, which is very nice.

What positive effects do you think the pandemic had on society?

What I noticed is that people are looking at local businesses again. Young entrepreneurs, the hip 30-ers, who work a lot together, for example Number 10 and Hofi Cas Cora. Everyone orders together to support each other, for as long as possible. In addition, this is also a good time to adjust the bad habits we have, now you have time to!

What does the new normal mean for your business?

I understand that this is a nice term for social media, but it should be called a new normal because I do not want that. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a society where you can no longer give a hug or shake hands. As a society, we shouldn’t be so easy about it. I personally think that in 1 year or 1.5 years everything will be back to normal. As an entrepreneur, you must start thinking differently. You have to tighten your hygiene measures. Another point is due to the growth in the demand for take-out the usage of single-use plastic is also increasing. This is cost-effective but it is harmful to the environment in the long term. We must be aware of this and work on sustainability.

It will be a challenge for us to draw locals back to our restaurant in large numbers, but we do see that our loyal customers keep coming back. People go back to their old favorites. That’s nice to see.

What has changed in your product?

We have every day a different menu for takeout. That is easier for the kitchen for preparation. Our Take-out and Delivery started very well after the lock-down, we do see that it is getting less and that makes sense because people can go out again and have more choices. The terrace is now open but not much has changed in the layout. A maximum of 4 people can sit at a table and there is a lot of space between the tables. On the table, there is only a bottle of hand sanitizer. The staff in the service do not wear masks or gloves, which we do not think fits in our service unless it seems guests would prefer it. We do strictly adhere to social distancing measures.

What message would you like to share with our followers?

First, our local residents do not keep your money in your wallet but support the local economy in a responsible manner. With regards to tourism, it is important that we stimulate a sustainable economy and therefore sustainable tourism. Curaçao is an island with a lot of potentials. When I see what was suddenly possible in the past 2 months in the fields of digitization, mobile/working from home, that is very positive. Since last week, the opening hours have been extended to 22:00, and guests can once again enjoy the ambiance and service of the restaurant in a pleasant and safe way. Reservations can easily be made via the website or Facebook messenger.

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