TikTok bringing massive queues to trendy spots in Amsterdam, annoying neighbors
The queue to buy cookies from Van Stapele Koekmakerij, a bakery in the Amsterdam city center, usually stretches along both sides of a narrow street these days, making it nearly impossible for cyclists to pass. Many of those in line on Thursday told NL Times they are tourists who arrived from all over the world, with one thing in common: They saw the cookies on TikTok.
TikTok users have generated millions of views featuring several Amsterdam businesses selling french fries, fresh stroopwafels, cookies and sandwiches. This viral attention has brought hundreds of people to the locations, day in and day out, with the extremely long queues clogging up the already busy city center.
"It looked delicious, so we had to try it," said an Irish couple in the line to enter Van Stapele Koekmakerij on Heisteeg. Another woman in the queue admitted she was not entirely sure what she was waiting for, but had been told to go there after someone saw the shop on social media. The store now has two security managers to keep the line in order. “We tried to keep people from standing where they shouldn’t,” explained one of them.
Mike, a bartender at Café Hoppe, looked out at the line while standing in front of his pub, which is across the street from the cookie shop. “Sometimes people stand in line in front of our door, so that's a bit annoying,” he said with an air of resignation. “But it’s not a big deal, it’s what it is.”
"It never stops"
A few hundred meters further at Fabel Friet in the 9 Straatjes neighborhood, over 40 people were lined up behind rope barriers while two crowd control managers did their best to maintain order. Gio is one of them, laughingly referring to himself as "the bouncer" for the french fries location. He explained that his job is to tell people where they should queue, where they are allowed to eat after getting their food, and where they should put their trash once they are finished. “All day, it never stops."
He explained that sometimes people even stand in line before Fabel Friet opens its doors at noon. There is no doubt in his mind that this sudden influx of customers is due to TikTok. "It used to be very quiet here. You could still sit on a bench in front of the store to eat your fries," he said. “But influencers came here and posted it on social media.” A sort of free promotion, he remarked. “And it costs nothing!”
Similar scenes were observed one street further up at Chun Café on Berenstraat, which became famous on social media for its Korean sandwiches. Long lines stretched down the pavement on both sides of the street. “I have never tried it, but I was told it’s a must in Amsterdam,” said a tourist from Israel. A sign has been put up there to indicate where the queue ends. Austrian tourists explained that they were not allowed to join the queue because it was already too long.
“We have to wait before we are allowed to wait,” said one of them half-joking.“That’s a bit ridiculous, but we were told it’s really tasty.”
Crowds blocking other businesses
Beyond the comical nature of the situation, not everyone seemed to be amused. Caroline and Monique both work in a clothing store opposite Fabel Friet. "It's like King's Day, but every day," Caroline said. They explained that people often stand and eat in front of their door, blocking the entrance and hiding the window.
"It costs us money," Monique sighed, aware that the owners are not really responsible for this situation. “They’re doing their best, they even put up signs and stickers," Monique observed. But it just gets busier and busier. There is no solution."
A few meters further, a resident has put up signs asking people not to sit or eat in front of their windows. "Tourists think Amsterdam is just one big open museum, of course. They'll sit and eat everywhere,” said Lucia, who works in an office nearby. She expressed confusion about this new trend. “What’s next? Will everyone jump in the canal if it becomes trending on TikTok?”
City Hall is aware of the situation
According to Eva Plijter, a spokesperson for the municipality who spoke with Het Parool, the municipality is aware of the situation and has held consultations with the concerned entrepreneurs. Some measures have been implemented, such as reducing the menu on busy days or creating additional waiting space.
However, these measures may not be sufficient. Cristian, the manager of a vintage clothing store near Chun Café, had to install large flower boxes to prevent people in line from blocking access to the store. He explained that the entrance was no longer visible to customers and some people simply did not enter because they assumed there was a queue to get in. “We were losing money.”
He expressed hope that this situation will eventually come to an end. "Trends never last forever."