Tiel cafe owner bans customers who don’t speak Dutch

Polish flag with coat of arms

Photo: Wikipedia

The owner of two cafes in Tiel, a town in Gelderland between Arnhem and Den Bosch, has decided to ban potential customers who do not speak Dutch, local paper the Gelderlander said on Monday.

The paper says the rule applies to all visitors to cafe De Tijd and dance cafe De Kikker, but that the real aim is to keep out Polish nationals. Tiel is the centre of the the Dutch fruit growing industry, where many seasonal workers come to pick apples and pears.

Owner Cristjan Ernste told the paper that cafe customers have to show their ID and say ‘goedenavond’ and that Polish nationals and other foreigners who speak Dutch will be allowed to go in.

‘It is about us all understanding each other,’ he is quoted as saying, adding that he did not consider the house rules to be discriminatory because they applied to everyone.

‘If I tell a customer they have had enough to drink and that they should leave, and they don’t understand me, it immediately gets physical,’ he said.


Tiel mayor Hans Beenakker told the paper he is aware of more complaints about the behaviour of Polish workers in cafes and bars. However, the police said talk of problems and fights is exaggerated.

Tiel is also one of several towns which is bringing in local laws to restrict the number of Eastern Europeans living in certain residential areas. The town council wants to restrict the number of ‘labour migrants’ living in one house to four and plans to limit the number of ‘Polish houses’ on a street by street basis.

The town estimates around 10% of its population are Polish.

Update Monday afternoon: The cafe owner has told local council officials he will not be pressing ahead with the plan. According to the Gelderlander,, it was ‘never his intention to discriminate’ and that the decision was aimed at ensuring the safety of staff and customers who cannot always communicate


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