Glenn van Damme not only serves poffertjes in Mexico City, but now also bitterballen

MEXICO CITY – Croque madame, eclairs, meat croquettes, or a delicious portion of fries with stew, served with a Brugse Zot on tap. This is Mexico City's popular Condesa neighborhood, where you'll find plenty of trendy restaurants. Glenn van Damme (33) from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and his Mexican girlfriend Gypsy Lara (29) opened their own restaurant Frituur here on Thursday. Yes, Dutch and Belgian cuisine in a country where its own gastronomy is sacred. Ambassadors Johan Verkammen of Belgium and Wilfred Mohr of the Netherlands perform the opening. 

(This story was published in Dutch newspaper PZC.)


Verkammen is enthusiastic. ,,I've been here for eight months now and I missed this here. The restaurant offers the best of our two countries, this will be a success. I can see myself taking peope here for negotiations. In any case, I will certainly promote it more.”

From left to right: Johan Verkammen of Belgium, Glenn van Damme, Gypsy Lara and Wilfred Mohr

Glenn van Damme and Gypsy Lara

Glenn and Gyspy are proud. They welcome everyone personally and can't stop smiling. With food truck La Poffería, this is their second store in the city of millions, but this step is a big one. A real restaurant, a permanent place. The business itself is relatively small; inside there is room for twenty diners, and outside there is room for a terrace, where sixteen people can sit. The colors blue and yellow recur regularly: in the logo, on the terrace, and on the furniture. But also natural tones, such as a wooden bar and plenty of green plants.

FRITUUR is open!

In the back, the kitchen is clearly visible and several chefs are working on the food. Mirrors are hung here and there, which makes the room appear larger. Beautiful photos of Amsterdam adorn the wall, made by the Mexican Alejando Loar, who lives in Amsterdam. “This is Condesa. The interior has to be attractive, otherwise, no one will come in here,” explains Van Damme, who hired a special agency for the decoration. 

Every square centimeter has been thought about. Central is the 'regular table', made of marble. The Dutch or Belgians from the neighborhood will soon come together here, Glenn daydreams. On the sides are the tables, made of granite. It looks orderly and chic. “All our food is handmade, this is certainly not a snack bar,” he says.

This is certainly not a snack bar on the inside, but a really hip restaurant

Expect Flemish prices here. Fries will cost about three dollars. In this somewhat wealthier neighborhood that will not raise eyebrows; many foreigners live here. Belgians and other Europeans. And Americans. And richer Mexicans. The restaurants here are all of excellent quality, with good food, for which you simply pay a little more. 

Back for a moment, a little history. Glenn meets Gyspy in February 2017. He soon decides to cross over to Mexico to live together. He does not yet have a concrete plan but is convinced that it will work out. Together they visit Glenn's birthplace a little later and Gyspy explores Dutch and Flemish cuisine. Dutch Mini Pancakes. She loves it. What if they brought these to Mexico?

A crazy kind of fantasy starts to live. They take two pans for poffertjes with them to Mexico, arrange a table, and with the poffertjes maker they visit markets, of which Mexico has many. And it is a success, the Mexican also likes the poffertjes. The couple wants to take things a little more seriously: they buy a food truck and call themselves La Poffería. It will then be in February 2019. With this, they will go to festivals, with a somewhat larger oeuvre.

The restaurant is perfectly located in Condesa

Their studies are both extremely useful. Glenn studied business management, with hospitality as a specialty. Gypsy studied art history. She takes great pleasure in figuring everything out. From far and wide within Mexico she finds the perfect ingredients for the food they want to make. Together they start building their business.

During the week they find a permanent place and are getting more and more regular customers. The Mexicans and foreigners living in Mexico love the poffertjes and other delicacies.

And then Corona. A very tough period, nothing is sure anymore. It causes some panic and uncertainty, but soon the realization follows. This is for a reason through no fault of their own: the pandemic itself. 

That can also be seen online. The Instagram page of La Poffería is alive. Beautiful images of new delicacies are shown and shared here. The photos are often picked up by culinary magazines worldwide. Gypsy actively approaches them and that pays off. More than 18,000 Instagrammers now follow the channel and it also yields concrete new customers. Graphic expressions are an important part of success. Designed by Koen van der Bliek from Aardenburg, a childhood friend of Glenn. 

Glenn van Damme en Gypsy Lara van FRITUUR
The two proud owners, Gypsy and Glenn

Now they have 29 employees. So much? Why? “We provide Mexican service here. It is very different from Europe. Here each table has its own service. This way, your plate will be cleared immediately when you're done eating. Everyone has their own task, that is the culture here.”

Although Frituur should now turn out to be a success, the couple is already looking a little further away. Perhaps they also want to house La Poffería in a real restaurant. Do they want to open more cases? The ambitions are great, with Frituur their second dream is being realized.

In June, Glenn and Gyspy will go to Aardenburg again, for the first time in four years. To see family and friends again after such a long time. The staff must be ready to keep Frituur and La Poffería running without them. That is still exciting, but during the opening, the first visitors seem to embrace the restaurant. Because fries stewed with Brugse Zot will soon be part of the local gastronomy in Mexico.

Steven van Beek
Steven van Beek
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