Amsterdam allowed to close cheese store in tourist shop ban: court

Amsterdam Cheese Company on Damrak in Amsterdam, 13 Dec 2017
Amsterdam Cheese Company on Damrak in Amsterdam, 13 Dec 2017Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

The city of Amsterdam is allowed to force the closure of cheese store Amsterdam Cheese Company on Damrak under its ban on tourist shops in the city center, the Amsterdam administrative court ruled on Tuesday.

The owner of the Amsterdam Cheese Company filed this lawsuit in an effort to prevent the closure of its newest store. The chain has four other branches in the city center. 

Amsterdam implemented the ban on new tourist stores in the city center early in October 2017. The cheese store owner argued that this ban can not apply to his Damrak store, because he signed a lease for the store before the ban was implemented. 

The court acknowledged that the lease was signed before the ban was implemented, but ruled the ban still applies to the Amsterdam Cheese Company. According to the court, the existing store was adapted into a tourist store after the ban was implemented, which makes the business in conflict with the new policy. 

The owner also argued that the ban on tourist stores is formulated so vaguely that the city can arbitrarily decide which stores fall under it, and that his store doesn't focus only on tourists, but also on Amsterdam residents. To this the court ruled that the municipality sufficiently formulated the criteria on which the ban is based. The court also determined that the store is primarily aimed at tourists, specifically citing advertising slogans in the store like 'Our cheeses are ready to fly', and the hefty prices for a one-sided supply of cheese. 

The judge added that Amsterdam is not discriminating with this ban, because the city isn't banning shop owners from selling things to tourists. The ban only applies to stores that specifically target this group. 

Because the owner can still open another type of store on the Damrak location, the municipality of Amsterdam does not have to compensate him for damages he incurred in renovating the store, the court ruled.