The Ysbreeker then and now
Brimming with life and a meeting-place for each and everyone in Amsterdam. A place where, if you like, you could spend the entirety of your day. A historical space with a rich history and a beautiful terrace along the Amstel river. Also, let’s not forgot a kitchen which uses exclusively fresh ingredients.
A Rich History
Built in 1702. A proud date that adorns the front windows of The Ysbreeker. The restaurant is named after the icebreakers that were docked in front of the building from 1702 till 1860. The ships would clear a path through the ice covered Amstel river towards the city of Vecht during the cold winter months. During those years the location served as a tavern for the shipmates and the locals of the neighbourhood.
At the start of the 20th century The Ysbreeker became a prominent venue for the artistic and political scene of Amsterdam. It was the centre for the “Sturm und Drang” literary movement and became a meeting place for key figures of the SDAP political party. The misspelling of the name “The Ysbreeker” originates from this time period.
Not long thereafter The Ysbreeker became one of the leading billiard locations in the country. It introduced a new billiard table model known as the Wilhelmina. The new table was exceptionally heavy and meticulously manufactured, while also sporting an additional stabilising ‘fifth leg’. The Ysbreeker still has one of these billiard tables as a silent memento of the old days.
After the war
The Second World War left a painful mark, as a majority of the guests where of Jewish descent. The Ysbreeker went through a period of vacancy during and after the war. Jan Wolff and ballerina Maureen Kramen, his wife at the time, rented the place from 1979 onwards. With the aid of friends they established a café that doubled as a hub for current day music and ballet. Moreover, many a famous radio- and television show was hosted at The Ysbreeker, including the famous talk-show “Here is Adriaan van Dis”.
Andreas Wolff, the son of Jan Wolff, decided to renovate the place in 2010 while preserving its history. The arches and the floor in the front where maintained in their original style. The Ysbreeker installed three stained glass panes with icebreaker motives to commemorate its history. Furthermore, the restaurant still kept its Wilhelmina model billiard table dating back to the beginning of the 20th century.
This rich and multifaceted history inspired the owner to have an unorthodox approach to hospitality. The Ysbreeker as we know it now cannot be placed into any category. It simultaneously functions as a teahouse, lunchroom, pub, lounge, game café and restaurant.