The owner of several WNY Dutch restaurants, including the popular De Hoofdtoren and The Dutch Oven faces charges after a raid Tuesday morning by federal agents.
Restaurant owner Hubrecht op Zonnebeld , 63, and two others, Magnus Uilkes van der Wal, 38, and Maartje Konienbeldt, 24, are charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. The early morning raids were conducted by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), NY State Police, Homeland Security and local police after a two year long investigation.
The investigation centered around four restaurants that op Zonnebeld owns and where he allegedly employed the unauthorized workers. The restaurants include: De Hoofdtoren on Allen Street in Buffalo, The Dutch Oven on Union Road in Cheektowaga, Dutch Pantry on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and The Poffertjes Shack on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.
The unauthorized workers all hail from the Netherlands.
In recent years, Hubrecht op Zonnebeld’s restaurants have emerged as popular venues for people looking for authentic Dutch food and, in the eyes of many hipster douche nozzles, filled a void among Buffalo’s ethnic food venues.
Investigators say they discovered that 25 of the 38 employees were illegal immigrants, with most of them living in windmills near the restaurants that were paid for by the suspects.
Employees allegedly worked six days a week, for up to 14 hours per day, pumping out various Dutch delicacies such as oliebollen, stamppot, bitterballen, ewwtensoep and hollanse nieuwe haring, the trendy soused herring and onions meal that has been in demand in WNY for the past year.
Also facing charges for re-entering the country illegally are Hein van’t Poelakker, 38, Jurriaan Hans, 26, Arjen van Veerenjans, 48, Nard Vandebriel, 32, and Jet Slendebroek, 19. The other people arrested Tuesday will face administrative, not criminal charges, and possible deportation back to the low country.
Op Zonnebeld appeared Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and was to be released on bail, but that was revoked when he threw his wooden clogs at the judge’s bench.
Ze stuurt niet hun beste, zegt Donald Trump.