Take your tastebuds for a ride on the Smakenrad

Photograph: Juliana Lindenhayn

What goes best with a professionally cooked meal and a nice glass of wine? The view of a beautiful city from 50 meters up. This is what the Smakenrad is offering customers, 7 days a week, from morning until evening. 

The Dutch culinary events company Foodtastic Hospitality Solutions has found an innovative solution to challenges posed by Covid-19 by converting the Netherlands’ largest traveling Ferris wheel into a restaurant called Smakenrad (flavour wheel). The idea was brought to life in June by founder and owner Bram Verleg and has so far been to Den Bosch and Groningen, with Amsterdam to follow next month. 

Many events companies have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic as they rely on large social gatherings, which have since been heavily restricted. These restrictions were further enforced following Monday’s press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.

Earlier closing times and stricter limits on maximum capacities are being enforced, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for people to meet and socialize. Businesses have had to become creative in order to keep afloat, and a Ferris wheel restaurant is a truly original approach to this. 

The Smakenrad complies with coronavirus measures whilst providing a fun social experience with professional restaurant service and food. The cabins have a maximum capacity of five, and at most two people from different households may sit together. “We do think about it,” says employee Rob Hendrix about the company’s concern for its guests’ health.

The Smakenrad has been a great success so far, catering to over 33 thousand guests in its two months in Den Bosch. “Student associations get a discount,” says the owner Bram Verleg. The Smakenrad also offers a special student discount on Thursdays, which includes a meal and a one-hour long ride in the Smakenrad for €18.50, which is 50% of the regular dinner price.

The service and food quality are a testament to Bram Verleg’s years of hospitality experience, and the success of the Smakenrad is evident in the glowing reviews of its guests. “At the time I wanted a dessert it wasn’t an option anymore, but I asked for it and I could still get it, so the service is really good,” says dinner guest Robbert van Tol. He says the Smakenrad experience is “something very special.” 

Verleg tries to work with local suppliers whenever possible, offering guests a taste of regional food and drinks. When asked about expanding internationally he says: “that’s the ambition!”

The Smakenrad will be in De Suiker in Groningen from the 23rd September to the 18th October and offers morning coffee, lunch, dinner, and drink sessions which can be booked online. 

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