Amsterdam’s oldest gay bar renamed ‘IKEA’ in protest at superstore remaining open through lockdown
Amsterdam‘s oldest gay bar, Spijker Bar, has renamed itself IKEA to raise awareness of the financial difficulty faced by the hospitality industry during lockdown, while large stores have been able to stay open.
The owners Steven Koudijs and Tomas Adamer said they didn’t change the name to avoid the restrictions, but to highlight the struggles they were facing during lockdown.
Koudijs told PinkNews: “The Dutch government decided yesterday (21 January) that there will be some kind of compensation of rent and staff costs, to be applied for as of May 2021, compensating from January 2021 onwards. That is fairly late, we are already closed since mid-October 2020.
“We are confident though, that with the help of our community, we will be able to celebrate orgiastic freedom soon again.”
Steven Koudijs and Tomas Adamer have been running the 40-year old bar since 1 March, 2020, but were forced to close two weeks later due to the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Koudijs said: “We had planned another month for the handover with the previous owner and wanted to start on 1 April. But that never happened.
“However, on the purchase contract, it’s officially 1 March. This is also when the lease for this place started. Since then, costs are coming in.”
Due to the date they took over ownership, they have been unable to provide proof of turnover to the Dutch government to get compensation to help them stay afloat.
They have tried to get the historical turnover information from the previous owners but he reportedly “refuses to deliver his data”.
They are currently fundraising to save the bar.
At the time of writing, they have raised €16,000 of their €60,000 target. If they exceed their target, they will donate any leftover funds to an AIDS charity.
The owners say the bar is a “crazy, cozy and special place” and hope to save it so that it can “remain the special place that it has been since 1978”.
The owners of Spijker Bar are fundraising to cover costs and secure the bar’s future
Koudijs doesn’t have an issue with IKEA specifically, but said there should be more support for the hospitality industry.
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“When we put up the sign, only the hospitality industry was closed. Large stores like IKEA were open, with numerous customers without any distance.
“I don’t disapprove of the owners, but if you think a lockdown works then it has to apply to everyone.”
Spijker Bar was able to open from June to October 2020 but had a reduced capacity of just 20 to 25 guests.
The municipality of Amsterdam gave the bar permission to expand their outdoor terrace to compensate for the limits imposed on guests. However, they had to hire an additional bouncer during this time to enforce the restrictions.
The owners report costs of €12,000 per month.
Gay bars across the world have been struggling with mounting costs during the coronavirus pandemic.