He can still recall when it dawned on him what exactly was required of the manager of a student café on the campus. “I was in Corona, attending a burlesque dance show as a visitor. I suddenly realized that the people around me had left the comfort of their homes to come and study in Eindhoven. That they needed a place where they could feel at home. I want to give Hubble the ambiance of a lounge, make it somewhere students also want to come at the weekend.”
A wide range of businesses have afforded Peter experience in hospitality and catering, but it all started in the Stratumseind area. This 54-year-old was working there more than thirty years ago. He went on to do just about everything in the industry: he has been a manager, chef, waiter, bouncer, even the bathroom cleaner when needed. He can't wait for Hubble to open; he's recently spent more time at the computer organizing things than he'd like. He wants to receive guests. That should be happening as of mid February. “We won't be opening with a bang, but with low-key, friendly promotional offers, like a good hamburger at a very low price.”
We are sitting on bar stools but the café around us is still quite bare. More furniture is being delivered and heavy blackout curtains will improve the acoustics. “Good afternoon,” says Peter greeting two men who are just walking in. He wants to be responsive to people's needs at all time. “Don't call them customers, it give me goose bumps. People who come to Hubble are my guests.”
Mensen die naar Hubble gaan, komen bij mij op bezoek. Als ze weggaan zeg ik 'tot morgen', want ik hoop dat ze terugkomen.
Personally, he's a regular visitor of the Glorieux Monastic Nursing Home, housed in the villa De Burgh on the Geldropseweg. “I do voluntary work there. The best part is driving the nuns about. We have very meaningful conversations during a journey of an hour.” In his leisure time at home he paints with acrylics and reads books about the Second World War, and thrillers. Outdoors he likes to capture nature in photographs.
Peter's work hours are flexible and if need be he'll also be in Hubble during weekends. “But never without discussing it first at home. My family is very important to me. My wife and sons support and help me as necessary. His sons are studying. The eldest is living in digs in Maastricht while he studies health sciences, the youngest travels to Zwolle four days week for a program that I didn't know existed. “He's at Groene Welle, an academy where he's studying sport fishing. Think of it as being a forest ranger, but for water.”
If Peter were allowed one wish for Hubble, it would be that it does so well that it gets enough budget to try out all sorts of crazy ideas. Imagine food from a 3D printer or being served by drones. In the category of less crazy ideas, plans have already been made for a terrace with a hundred seats, and an outdoor bar. The 'python tubing' from the beer kegs in the cellar are already in place under the terrace. To work the outdoor tap, and staff the bar indoors, he could use some students with catering experience. “We aim to say 'tot morgen' to everyone as they leave. To let them know we'd like them to come back the next day.” Another group he wants to feel at home are the high school students who are studying hospitality and catering with a training company. Peter is an examiner for their program and if there's one thing he'd like to see them have, it is a fair chance in the job market. “Interns here won't just be used as workers, I want to really teach them something. That's a responsibility I feel.”
Main photo | Bart van Overbeeke