Eastern block drivers don’t care about closed roadhouses: ‘They are way too expensive anyway’ | Car


Roadside restaurant owners are not happy with it. Even in corona time, they are only too happy to serve the drivers a meal. Only… those drivers don’t seem to see the problem that way. “Do you also eat some soup?”

With a pink scouring pad and some water, he scrubs the last fat from the frying pan. “You are just too late,” says truck driver Streginja Radovanovic (32) with a smile, in excellent English. The soapy water goes into the verge. Pan clean, stomach filled. “I just finished dinner.”

Less than 50 meters from the Bentheimer Wald roadhouse, where the A1 motorway enters Germany, he prepared his own meal in the parking lot. With the help of a camping gas stove on a detached valve at the front of his Volvo truck. He almost always does, says the Serb cheerfully. Some meat, some vegetables, an egg. He doesn’t need more. “My father died fourteen years ago, then my mother was in hospital for six months,” says Radovanovic. “Then I had to cook myself.” He looked up some recipes online, he found out that he liked it too. Since then he has enjoyed it.

Great frustration

Since last week, all restaurants in the Netherlands have been temporarily closed due to the corona virus. So also the establishments along the way. Much to the frustration of the Federation of Road Care Hospitality Companies (FWH), to which many roadside restaurants are affiliated. “We are very disappointed in the government,” says chairman Erik Burgers. “By closing our businesses, they deprive all those people on the road a meal. They put them out in the cold. ”


A sandwich here costs about 5 or 6 euros. But what is one sandwich now? No driver can do that enough.

Streginja Radovanovic,, chauffeur

‘Not fresh’

The measure irritates him. “Our customers are people who do not work during office hours like those civil servants. They’re on the road 24 hours a day, in that cabin all day. And then they can get a takeaway from us, but they have to eat it again in that booth !? It’s just not fresh. While with us they can sit without any problems and at a distance of 1.5 meters. ”

Burgers is puzzled that he subsequently sees people eating a meatball at standing tables at gas stations. “Apparently that may be.” The difference in rules – in Germany the restaurants are still open – do not make the misunderstanding among him and colleagues any less.

Sausages in the pan

But here, this Saturday evening, at the De Poppe border car park near De Lutte, where no Dutch license plates are visible, nobody cares about the closed roadside restaurants. The pea soup and sausage, which are still for sale in the shop near the closed roadhouse, simmer untouched in the pan. The employee has a quiet evening. Is also because they have stopped picking up since Friday, she thinks. They just have to see if they can start again.

In the meantime, Eastern Europe drivers prepare their own meal in the parking lot. And that smells good. Whether it is the strongly spiced meat of three Russians or the soup of the Belarusian Pavel Charravski and his friends; it looks fresh and tasty. Although communication is difficult – the men don’t speak English or German and the reporter’s Polish doesn’t get any further than ‘na zdrowie’, which means ‘cheers’ – the thumbs up are telling. The reporter is kindly offered soup …

A little further on, Przemek Pyra takes care of himself. The gas stove, on which a pan fits exactly, has been provisionally built up in his truck. He is fine, in his mini kitchen between pallets. It tastes okay and is much cheaper than a restaurant. There, a meal quickly costs 12 euros. He is not willing to pay that money for it.

Przemek Pyra. © Lars Smook

The Pool opens the refrigerator and brings out a vacuum-packed cutlet. “Got it from my wife,” he says in German. He has with him for at least three days. If that is not enough, he quickly slips into a Lidl or Aldi supermarket somewhere. As he says many of his colleagues do.


It’s just not fresh. With us, drivers can sit 1.5 meters apart without any problems

Erik Burgers, chairman of FWH

And that makes more sense than logical, says Streginja Radovanovic. “A sandwich here costs about 5 or 6 euros. But ”, says the Serb, pointing to his stomach,“ what is one sandwich? Hardly a driver can do that. ” If there is also dinner, for 10 euros each time, it will be an expensive week. He prefers to spend that money on other things.

The Serbian has now stored his cooking utensils in his blue Volvo truck, where they will stay until tomorrow. What’s on the menu then? He doesn’t know that yet. But it will probably be something with egg and meat again.

Cooking on the truck.
Cooking on the truck. © Lars Smook

This roadhouse steps in for lonely trucker:

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