Hooray! The Bulldog will be 45 years old in 2020

That means one year full with parties and crazy promotions. You can probably imagine, a lot happened in the past 45 years. Let’s have a trip down memory lane.

"I want to create a living room atmosphere. A good vibe, relaxed. A place where people can smoke, talk and feel good. It simply doesn't get any better than that."

Henk de Vries

Where it all started.

The story of The Bulldog starts in 1974, in the middle of the red light district. When Henk de Vries just turned 24 years old, he inherited his father’s sex shop. He tried his best to serve the people who came in for the most freaky requests, but pretty soon he was sick and tired of these weird desires. Until one day, he had enough of it and threw the inventory of the sex shop into the canal.

Joris The Bull

Joris, Henk’s  English Bull … the beginning of the Bulldog Empire!

A dog named Joris.

Armed with a top-notch location, progressive ideas and exceptional intuition, he created a place where everyone is welcome. A place where people can enjoy the privilege of being themselves: The Bulldog coffeeshop. Inspired by his dog at that time, a bulldog named Joris. Even the company logo was inspired by Joris; a drawing of Joris’ head.

The living room concept.

When Henk opened The Bulldog coffeeshop (The First, also known as Nr90) it was just a basement with a couple of tables. By looks it was just a living room: people sat at the tables, talking, drinking, playing board and card games. At first, it was mostly visited by residents of the red light district.

The Bulldog is actually the first coffeeshop there was. That means, the term ‘coffeeshop’ as we know it today for Amsterdam, was invented by Henk.

The term ‘coffeeshop’

The Bulldog is actually the first coffeeshop there was. That means, the term ‘coffeeshop’ as we know it today for Amsterdam, was invented by Henk. But why did he use the term coffeeshop, while ‘coffee’ is not what most visitors come for? Henk de Vries answers this question for us:

“I wanted to make the connection with a coffeehouse, in my opinion that was like a living room for neighbourhood residents. Somethings which were done in other places weren’t allowed, like selling beer under the counter and hiding a slot machine behind the curtain I wanted to capture the coffeehouse feeling, keep the atmosphere of a living room. At the same time I wanted to have an international character to the place, that’s how the term ‘coffeeshop’ was born.”

The Bulldog Head Office

The Bulldog today.

Right now, 45 years later, The Bulldog expanded tremendously. The formula of The Bulldog proved to be a success. Many followed the example and by now the term ‘coffeeshop’ is recognized in many countries. Through the years The Bulldog has become a versatile company and the brand has gained more depth.

Besides the 5 coffeeshops there are also three cafes, three souvenir shops and a hotel in Amsterdam. The Bulldog also expanded across the borders of Amsterdam with a hotel and vacation homes in Canada, social clubs in Barcelona and Ibiza, a bar-restaurant in the centre of Rome and on the tropical island of Aruba. On top of it all there are several product lines like merchandising, Iced Coffee, The Bulldog energy drink, smoker products and seeds.