The daily queues on Calles 9 are not good news for all entrepreneurs. They are not waiting for the throngs of tourists who pour into the shopping area for chips or chocolate cakes and block the sidewalk. “Soon it will be a kind of Red Light District here.”
“No, of course I’m not happy with this,” says the owner of a clothing boutique on the 9 Streets. He points to the line, about a hundred meters long, that stretches past his store window and to the bridge ahead. He doesn’t want his name in the paper, and in any case, he fears that even more attention will be paid to a relatively new phenomenon in Amsterdam: the TikTok dispute. “And all the pieces of the media are making that line even longer, and I’m losing even more business,” he sighs.
Also, he has a good relationship with the owners of the popular chip shop next door, which he doesn’t blame either. But she drives her crazy. “I’m more concerned with keeping fries out of the store than selling clothes. See that stain on the hardwood floor? That was a drop of mayonnaise from someone who came in eating.”
The queue for Fabel Friet on the Runstraat is so long that it sometimes crosses the Keizersgracht. Customers wait behind a rope on the bridge, at the front of the queue they can swipe their order with a QR code, which they can then pick up across the street. The snack bar opened in 2020, and after a TikTok video went viral, the cheese fries became the go-to. saucer star and a hit with tourists.
For months the owners have been trying to manage the huge influx of customers. “We have two permanent ‘security hosts’ who make sure that traffic flows smoothly and that people don’t eat at the neighbors’ door. That is also indicated on the enamel signs we have purchased. We also empty the municipal bins several times a day and collect the neighborhood’s waste. What else can we do?” asks owner Floris Feilzer. “I can hardly ask if people want to stay away.”
On the one hand, you are proud of the success of your business. “We work very hard to produce a good product, and they are also very tasty fries.” But Feilzer also understands that the popularity of his business is a burden to local residents and other entrepreneurs. “I understand them very well, and I absolutely don’t want to write them off as whiners. But it’s incredibly busy all over Amsterdam, and the 9 streets are just a tourist attraction.”
Chocolate chip cake
Area manager Lony Scharenborg also has mixed feelings about the immense popularity of 9 Streets. “It’s good that people seem to like coming here, but I also see the danger of the area succumbing to its own success. Those lines for restaurants are not good for other businessmen and residents suffer from garbage. I also can’t imagine that tourists would like to queue for more than an hour to buy a stroopwafel or fries, while there is so much to do in Amsterdam. But yeah, they do it anyway.”
There are also a lot of people at Koekmakerij Van Stapele, in the narrow alley between Spui and Singel. Part of the queue is in front of the door, a little further on the bridge another 100 people wait patiently until they can buy their chocolate cakes. A crowd manager helps tourists from one queue to the next. “It’s crazy,” says Jasmijn, from the adjacent Tweede Kamer coffee shop. “They are already waiting here at 09:30, while it only opens at 10:00.” The cafeteria doesn’t benefit much from it, although sporadically someone from the line will come by for a joint.
“I sincerely wish you your turnover,” says Jasmijn. “I understood that the craze started after Jamie Oliver made a video about those cakes. We still had Quentin Tarantino in the store last week, but mind you: he didn’t put it on Tiktok.
A little further on, in the Berenstraat, there is also a row in two parts. Customers at Chun Café, which sells bubble tea and sandwiches, must line up on the sidewalk on one side of the street and, after a certain time, are guided by a crowd manager to the line on the opposite side. Sometimes there are signs saying ‘Wait another half hour from here’, and umbrellas are even handed out when it rains.
Joost de Beijer lives right next door, in the student house ‘De Heren van de Beren’, as the plaque says. Ill, he mentions the permanent queue at his door. “I have no problem with that, you get used to it. It’s only when you’re really broke, like now, that it’s annoying when everyone looks at you when you go out. But good for those Chun people that things are going so well. Good people, by the way, and that sandwich of theirs is good too.”
The clothing store owner can’t get rid of those queues fast enough, but she doesn’t know exactly who should do what. “We can talk and complain endlessly, and meanwhile the city is deteriorating. Soon all the little shops will disappear and the 9 Streets will become a kind of Red Light District, or Leidsestraat. I hope someone on the council intervenes. Someone with a heart for the city.”
call: talk to probation
What to do with the ‘TikTok queue’, if something needs to be done about it? Talk to Parole: tell us what you think about the phenomenon and its impact on Amsterdam. Send your opinion, in a maximum of 150 words, to email@example.com and also include your name and place of residence. Some of the responses are published on Parool.nl and in the newspaper.