For decades, the Van Veen conference center in Witten has been a household name in Assen and the surrounding area. But after a period of 57 years, that will come to an end. Owners Sipke and Gerja van Veen have sold the company to the Ministry of Defence.
“It’s hard work, we work sixty to seventy hours a week. When you reach a certain age, it’s time to stop,” says Sipke. This is also the right time for Gerja. “It costs us a lot of energy. Although we still have that now, we want to prevent that we don’t feel like it anymore. And we know the trick by now and are still young enough to do something else.”
The company has been owned by the Van Veen family since 1966. Sipke and Gerja are the third generation in the company and took over from Sipke’s parents 28 years ago. There is little to recognize from the farm cafe of that time. Sipke and Gerja transformed it into a restaurant and party room. Numerous company parties, condolences and weddings were held in the conference centre.
The couple cherishes fond memories of that period. “Especially the busy evenings in the weekends, with full halls and a lot of hectic activity, gave a kick,” laughs Gerja. “Goosebumps moments”, Sipke adds.
There is no question of succession, so the catering bosses decided to put things up for sale. “Our children have very different ambitions, so we knew for a while that it would stop with us,” says Gerja.
Defense has bought the entire trade because of the favorable location of the building next to the shooting range. The intention is that the building will eventually be demolished and the ground will be pulled near the shooting range, so that it will serve as a noise zone around the range. “It is a shame that the building is being demolished, but it is ultimately up to the buyer what will happen to the building.”
Before that, there is one last, grand party on the program. “Our employees asked if we could all do something with the TT one more time. Everyone is looking forward to that. So we’re going to have a blast together one more time,” says Gerja.
And after that final match, the doors will close definitively on July 1. What the catering bosses will do next is still open. “That’s the first question everyone asks us,” laughs Gerja. “But we don’t have the slightest idea. Let’s deal with everything first, and then we’ll look further.”
Owners Sipke and Gerja van Veen about closing the conference centre: