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[ 0 ] Sep. 4, 2012 | SBO Editor

Belgian Beer Café has all the ingredients for success. And even though the U.S. economy has seen better days, Erwin Himpens believes Belgian Beer Café will have no trouble prospering in the U.S. – as it has throughout the world. Good beer, good food and good atmosphere equal a winning trifecta.

Belgian Beer Café to open in the U.S.

Creneau International, Belgium’s premier design agency, recently announced plans to develop Belgian Beer Café, a unique Belgian bar/restaurant concept, on American soil for the first time through their specialized franchise department. Though Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) owns and licenses the Belgian Beer Café on a global level, Creneau International will hold ownership rights in the U.S. and Canada.

The more than 60 Belgian Beer Cafés around the world, located in about a dozen countries and four continents, are all licensed or franchised by AB InBev to individual owners or groups of investors. Only in North America will Creneau International develop and franchise the concept.

Created in 1998, Belgian Beer Café is truly fresh and exciting and sure to be a welcome addition to the U.S. casual dining landscape. The recipe is simple: Offer an extensive selection of world-renown and local-brewed Belgian beers; classic Belgian cuisine; an attentive, knowledgeable, white-jacketed wait staff and an atmosphere that evokes the comfortable surroundings of a classic Brussels brasserie café.

The first Belgian Beer Café Creneau International is bringing stateside is tentatively scheduled to open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in May. Overall, franchise/licensing projections call for the opening of approximately 60 Belgian Beer Cafés in the U.S. within three to four years.

Creneau International has been associated with Belgian Beer Café since 1997 when the company was contracted by Belgium-based Interbrew, now AB InBev, to design the Belgian Beer Café concept as a vehicle for bringing its beers to a global audience. Creneau International has designed and built every location abroad.

In addition to the Atlanta airport location – licensed to HMSHost – a tentative development agreement is expected to bring 10 Belgian Beer Cafés to the New York City, Miami and Boston metropolitan areas within the next five years. A location is also slated to open at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey later this year.

“There are some new beer-only concepts that have opened, as well as some beer-related restaurant brands that are franchising, but none are related to specialty beers such as the Belgian Beer Café,” said Erwin Himpens, franchise director for Creneau International.

“Belgian beer (which includes the popular Stella Artois brand as well as Duvel and Chimay) is extremely popular in the U.S. and based on the success of the cafés already open around the world, we feel the U.S. market is primed for a proven concept like Belgian Beer Café,” said Himpens.

Creneau International is seeking experienced restaurant and/or investment groups with previous experience operating and managing multi-unit concepts in the upper segment of the restaurant marketplace. It is off to a running start. HMSHost, the Newark and Atlanta Airport licensee, is the world’s largest provider of food, beverage and retail services for travelers.

Belgian Beer Café fills a unique niche for potential investment groups and franchisees as an international brand and appealing concept, with an authentic atmosphere and world-class design and construction services.

“There are four pillars behind the success of Belgian Beer Café: our wonderful beers, outstanding food, terrific ambiance and great service,” Himpens said. “We stand out from the rest. For example, where else can you go where your server will be able to explain and educate customers on how certain beers pair well with specific dishes?”

Backed by the company’s design expertise, Belgian Beer Café offers a safe refuge after a hectic working day or the proper finishing touch to the end of a pleasant day. Typical of a Belgian brasserie café, patrons will find spacious rooms with extensive seating and a perfect view of the comings and goings of the surroundings, both inside and outside. The atmosphere has been meticulously designed and is typical of that found in Belgian meeting places of the 1920s, featuring wooden floors with old cement tiles; dark, solid wooden furniture and paneling; and a welcoming wood and marble-top bar with brass hand and foot rails.

“It provides a level of comfort and familiarity, almost how you feel when you’re at your grandmother’s house,” Himpens said. “But at the same time, we also try to make every Belgian Beer Café unique based on its located.”

As its name implies, patrons will find no better place to enjoy the incredible array of Belgian beers featured at Belgian Beer Café. With a population of roughly 11 million, Belgium has more than 100 breweries that feature more than 500 different beers.

Belgian Beer Café Training and Support:

Belgian Beer Café provides a comprehensive two-week training program at its corporate headquarters in Hasselt, Belgium and/or one of the Belgian Beer Café’s worldwide for new franchisees. The program focuses on all elements of operations including The Belgian Beer Café concept and history; knowledge of beer, including ingredients; brewing techniques, beer styles and pouring rituals; Belgian food and prepping methods, food and beer pairings, sales, service training and staffing.

For more info:

Belgian Beer Café®
Creneau International
Hellebeemden 13
3500 Hasselt, Belgium
t: 0032 11 24 79 20




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Category: Magazine, Start Your Own Business, Start Your Own Business Winter 2013