Haesje Claes is a typical and authentic Amsterdam restaurant which is situated in the Spuibuurt (City Centre), between the Spui Plein and Dam Square. Its location spreads from the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal to the Spuistraat and Roskamsteeg.In 1974, André Duyves opened Haesje Claes as a small lunchroom (petit-restaurant) which is still known today for its famous meatballs with pepper sauce and brown bean soup. The restaurant was first opened at the Nz Voorburgwal 320, and was previously a theatre room called "Tingel Tangel" owned by a famous Dutch cabaret artist Sieto Hoving. After studying the history of the area, André Duyves named the lunchroom "Haesje Claes" in honour of a lady who was born in 1475 and was the founding lady of the first orphanage in Amsterdam called Burgerweeshuis. The orphanage Burgerweeshuis was opened sometime in the year 1520 and Lady Haesje Claes died in 1544. The orphanage is nowadays transferred to the Amsterdam Museum in which you still can find the living situation of the orphans back then. The Amsterdam Museum is situated on the opposite side of the street from Haesje Claes.
In the opening days of Haesje Claes, André Duyves received help from both his mother and father, which made it a somewhat family business, a tradition which is still in place today. The restaurant which began in a small monumental building, has now expanded into more than 6 of the neighbouring monumental buildings. These have been converted into a number of dining rooms, which are connected together with small halls, stairs and corridors. In addition, André had a passion for art, monumental building materials and antiques. With his collection, he single handedly began to decorate, and has transformed this beautiful restaurant into this stylish Amsterdam"s wonderland that it is today.The interior consists of pictures, mirrors, famous Delft tiles, glass lead windows, astonishing art work, gold leather wallpaper and oak wood panelling, each telling their own story. Most of the staff who have worked here for many years are somewhat still surprised when they discover new things.
Every room has its own style and atmosphere and all of these brought together, gives the feeling of one large living space. It is equipped to accommodate small and large groups of people, with the possibility of your own dining room. Inside you will find printed pictures of the children who lived in the orphanage. They were clothed in the colours red and black, and most often the boys would be taught a trade, whilst the girl would wear headscarves and carry out the daily household tasks. A very famous Dutch naval officer (Jan van Speyk), now deemed as a hero for going to war with Belgium and blowing up his own ship instead of being captured, is known to have lived the start of his life in the orphanage. There's a very famous Dutch saying now "dan liever de lucht in" which metaphorically means "rather kill myself than..."