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    First Belgian KFC in Gare du Nord draws big crowd

    The Brussels region blocked plans by Kentucky Fried Chicken to open a second shop in the city. Credit: Maïthé Chini/The Brussels Times

    Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first restaurant in Belgium in Brussels’ Gare du Nord on Wednesday, resulting in a long line of people reaching the Starbucks at the other end of the station.

    “We are very happy to introduce KFC to Belgium, as it was one of the few countries in Europe that did not have one yet. Chicken is a product that was missing from the Belgian market,” said Steven Deman, Chief Operating Officer of Autogrill, that operates the first KFC in Belgium, to The Brussels Times.

    “We were expecting a lot of people, but opening day is of course not representative. There will not be a line like this every day,” he said, adding that the chain is planning on opening several more restaurants in Belgium.

    “The chicken is breaded by hand daily, according to the secret Original Recipe. We are only taking 40 orders at a time, to try and keep it manageable, but the kitchen is in full swing. We expect the line to be here for the rest of the day,” Deman said.

    “I am actually supposed to be studying,” said Laurens, a social sciences student standing at the back of the line. “The line is really long, but I came all the way from Leuven to be one of the first to eat in a Belgian KFC, I will just consider it a day to let my brain rest and treat myself,” he added.

    Gare du Nord is Belgium’s busiest train station with about 60,000 commuters every day. “We are very excited to open the very first branch of KFC in Belgium in this station. The capital is the perfect place to set foot in Belgium, and Gare du Nord is also an easily accessible location for people who are not commuting,” Deman said.

    “I do not mind waiting too much,” said Shauni, who has been standing in line for almost 30 minutes. “I live pretty close to the station and I work from home, so I am not missing anything. I have been waiting for good fried chicken in Belgium for a while now, so I am really happy KFC has finally arrived,” she said.

    KFC is sharing the Gare du Nord with other chains like Quick, and the healthy sandwich shop Exki, but Deman does not see that as a problem, as he thinks the different restaurants complement each other. “In the end, it is the customer’s choice, but Quick does not have our fried chicken, and you cannot eat Exki every day,” Deman said.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times