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Monday, December 20, 2010

Cafe Van Kleef gets visit from Dutch consul-general

If you happened to be anywhere near downtown last Friday (Dec. 10) you might have seen something that looked like a multitude of Dutch tourists riding bicycles converging on Oakland. It was actually the Netherlands Consul-General Bart J.M. van Bolhuis and his staff rolling up in front of Café Van Kleef.

"It's the Dutch way," the owner Peter Van Kleef said. He meant the bicycles. The group, which works in the San Francisco consulate, included the eclectic bar in its tour of East Bay wineries because Van Kleef's parents came from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. So technically the bar is not Dutch-owned. But close enough.

Café Van Kleef is listed in "Lonely Planet" tour guides erroneously under a Berkeley address. "But the Dutch people find it," Van Kleef said. The group drank, ate and laughed. Van Kleef mixed up his famous greyhound cocktails and "tried to be as gracious as I could representing Oakland."

He said as a joke he walked in with a couple bottles of gin -- a Dutch invention -- and greeted the group in Dutch. Speaking the language took him back to his childhood. Van Kleff said his mother spoke English and Dutch intertwined, "like a rope. I never paid attention, I could understand her both ways."

When she died at the age of 93, Van Kleef said then-Mayor Jerry Brown proclaimed July 16 "Elizabeth Van Kleef Day."

Van Kleef wanted the city to proclaim Dec. 10 "Holland-Oakland Day" in recognition of the visit by the consul-general "It's a wonderful honor," he said.

Source: Oakland Tribune

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