The Food Department, culinary hotspot in Magna Plaza

In one of the city's most beautiful buildings, you can visit Amsterdam's newest culinary hotspot starting April 4. On the top floor of the iconic Magna Plaza, The Food Department will open its doors: a food hall where you can take a gastronomic trip around the world, from oysters and pitas to dim sum and macarons. Amsterdam Magazine speaks to Laurens van Rooijen and Edwin Spier, the men behind Amsterdam's newest foodie destination.

thefooddepartment founders

"The idea for a food hall in Magna Plaza had existed for some time. Two years ago, when the Magna Plaza changed hands, there was already a desire to do something with catering on this floor," says Edwin Spier, one of the two founders of The Food Department and in a previous life responsible for the launch of restaurant Bureau in start-up walhalla B.Amsterdam in Riekerhaven. "We were approached by Rent24, and its CEO, Robert Bukvic, to assess a plan for a food concept. The concept that was there at the time could only have been put anywhere in the world and had nothing to do with the city. We decided to write a new plan ourselves and that's how the ball got rolling. It was well received and they wanted to give us, as local guys, a chance and, in addition, 'give back' the property to the city." But for the duo, it didn't just stop at making plans. "After writing the concept, we got more and more involved in the project. Now we are responsible for running The Food Department and are also one of the operators ourselves," says Spier. In fact, in addition to the food stands, you will also find three different bar concepts in The Food Department that the men themselves operate. A beer garden, cocktail bar and at the very back, the crown jewel: a gigantic bar in a kind of chapel. Spier: "This is the perfect place to have a drink on a Friday afternoon."


The list of the fourteen food stands you'll find in The Food Department is nothing but impressive and reads like a hit list of Amsterdam's hospitality industry with names like The Butcher, Brut de Mer, Petit Gâteau, Sushito and Van 't Spit. How did the duo bring this dream team of hospitality concepts together? Van Rooijen: "The process was actually very simple. We created a wishlist made of concepts we wanted to include but also asked ourselves 'Where do we ourselves like to eat?' It ended up being a mix of three things, just like the St. Andrew's crosses on the city's coat of arms: gourmet, Amsterdam glory and new innovative concepts. We felt strongly from the start that The Food Departement should be something for AND by the city, so the concepts you'll find here are all Amsterdam initiatives."


The first thing you notice is the sea of light that greets you as you walk into the food hall. The once dark, boarded-up floor with taped-up windows is now bathed in light, and you look out on the city from all sides. "The building is iconic. Everyone has an affinity for the building. The location sells itself, we don't have to do anything for that. The most important thing is the feeling you get when you walk in. We therefore paid a lot of care and attention to the design," says Van Rooijen. For that job, they approached the renowned design firm Untitled Projects. Says Van Rooijen, "From the beginning, our goal was to rebuild the building to its former glory and try to bring it back to life. The design therefore used materials like enamel and cast iron that you also see in the original elements in the building such as the chandeliers in the main hall." All the stands have the same basic design: "The underskirts of the stands are all the same, but otherwise they are all different. We gave the entrepreneurs all the freedom to design their stands, but felt it was important that it was designed and finished to a certain level. You won't see Ikea bar tops here," says Spier.

The food stands you'll find in The Food Department reads like a hit list of Amsterdam's hospitality industry with familiar names like The Butcher, Brut de Mer, Petit Gâteau, Sushito and Van 't Spit.

The result is an eclectic mix of different styles and around each booth are tall bar stools and seating, the idea behind that? Spier: "What's the most fun place at a house party? The kitchen! That's where everyone gets together and lingers. We may be in a landmark building but the atmosphere has to remain casual and approachable." Not only was the design thought out to perfection, practical issues such as food odors, not entirely unimportant in a food hall, were not forgotten. Van Rooijen: "It is a listed building, so the renovation was quite a challenge. We had to work very carefully; for example, we were not allowed to do anything with the marble floor, which meant that we had to install a network of pipes and exhaust hoods in the ceilings. The Ferrari's under the hoods are blowing here."

MagnaPlaza FoodDepartment

The pair are on the eve of the opening and look back on the past period. Van Rooijen: "The last few years, the hospitality industry has been increasingly pushed to the outskirts of the city, while this building is in the epicenter of Amsterdam, it would have been a shame if nobody had done anything with it. Spier: "This is a dream, beyond. A lot has happened in a year. Developing this kind of project has long been a goal of ours. Hopefully this project will soon be one of many. Our hope is that it will be here again buzzing as it was when the building served as the main post office and it becomes a place where Amsterdam residents and tourists come together. That's the nice thing, it kind of completes the circle. Post connects people to the world and to each other, just like food does.

In The Food Department you will find special food stands from The Butcher (Burgers), Brut de Mer (fish), Petit Gâteau (patisserie), Toni Loco (pizza), Sushito (poke bowls & sushi), Van 't Spit (rotisserie), China Supreme (Chinese street food), Tacos & Tequilas (Mexican), Matts Wonderland (haute fast food), Bepita (pitas), Ta Toru (Indonesian), Lima Lima (Japanese/Peruvian), Lios (Greek) and Dim Sum District (dim sum).

Opening hours
The Food Department in Magna Plaza is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. all days of the week.

The Food Department
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 182, Amsterdam
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The Food Department
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 182, Amsterdam


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