In 1872, Frans Demmenie became the first person to build a home on the quay in the port of Roelofarendsveen. In the intensive industry around the lock – at that time the economic heart of the village – he saw a means of earning a good living for himself: in 1876, he opened a taproom in his own living room.
After his death, his widow kept the business going until 1889. In 1894, the old lock was rebuilt. At that time, De Haven was being run by an innkeeper named Bakker. Leen Elstgeest took over as manager of the inn in 1898. Because Leen’s second wife wasn't thrilled with a life of a publican’s wife (she used to hang the laundry in the café to dry, between the customers), Leen sold the café to Turk. Elstgeest’s descendants still rue that decision today. Jan Bot took over the café in 1914 and ruled it benevolently for many years. Then, in 1940, at the age of 23 and with a loan of 1000 guilders from the church, Leen Akerboom bought Café De Haven.
Leen Akerboom had the roof of the café raised in 1950. This created an upper storey with a number of rooms for fishermen and people passing through town. He also began renting out fishing boats. In those days, recreational anglers took the bus to Roelofarendsveen from the cities. They would spend Saturday evening in the café, grab a few hours of sleep and then row out onto the Brassem. The rooms above the café were regularly packed with fishing enthusiasts of all kinds. And although Leen Akerboom was the proud father of five lovely daughters, the situation never got out of hand.
On Sundays, after the boots had been used by fishermen, they were rented to the village youths who (armed with a crate of beer or two) would row them out towards the Hem. We can still observe this phenomenon today, albeit in more luxurious – and motorised – form. On the other hand: on Sundays when the weather is nice, pretty much anything that floats will be sailed out onto the lake. On days when there's such a motley procession, it's quite entertaining to watch the lock operate all day.
Leen Akerboom continued to make renovations to the café; in 1976, he sold it to his son-in-law, C. de Konink, who was married to his youngest daughter. In Cok and Rineke's hands, café De Haven became ‘het Haventje’ and a well-known institution in Roelofarendsveen and the region. The fishing boats made way for a terrace on the water, the outdoor patio was raised, the bar relocated, new additions were built, and to top it all off: Cok himself laid the stonework for a cellar under the café. This then housed the billiard tables, freeing up a lovely space for parties, meetings and so on in the main room. This period also saw the founding of the ‘Stamgasten’ club, which organises a major spectacle on the Zwet during the carnival each year.
After nearly 30 years as a publican, Cok decided it was time for him to step down: in 2004, he handed the keys of what had become the nicest café in Roelofarendsveen over to his daughter and son-in-law. On 1 January, in honour of the transition, the water in the lock was heated to make a nice, warm New Year’s swim possible. And with that, the ‘Sluisdompel’ tradition was born. Wendy and Don have continued to have a bit of fun by organising all manner of tongue-in-cheek activities. Meanwhile, improvements to the quality and hospitality of the ‘little brown pub’ have continued in order to make it a modern venue that can accommodate all kinds of events. With the addition of a veranda and special conservatory in 2010, the building housing the café – and the neighbourhood – gained even more monumental allure and historic value. Life is good here.