Belga Queen, the gourmet temple on the Rue du Fossé aux Loups in Brussels, has declared bankruptcy, owner Antoine Pinto announced.
The restaurant, housed in a magnificent 18th century building that was once a post office and then a bank (when such institutions had a certain majesty), was opened by Pinto, a Portuguese Belgian, in 2002, with the ambition of lifting Belgian brasserie food to a new level.
It worked for years, and then disaster after disaster struck. First the creation of the pedestrian zone, the terror attacks in Paris and the ensuing lockdown, then the terrorist attacks in Brussels, and finally the pandemic.
The restaurant website now states baldly: “Due to a technical problem, our restaurant will remain closed until further notice.”
According to l'Echo, the restaurant has filed for bankruptcy. Staff, numbering 35 people, were informed on Thursday, and reported losses for 2020 ran to €300,000, bringing the total debt burden to more than one million euros.
Meanwhile in better news, the two men behind the three-star Hertog Jan in Zedelgem in West Flanders – Gert De Mangeleer (chef) and Joachim Boudens (front of house) have decided to open a boutique version in Antwerp.
The two took the food world by surprise in 2018 when they announced they could close Hertog Jan. That meant that Belgium’s three-star restaurants were suddenly reduced from three in number to only one – Hof Van Cleve of Peter Goossens. The second, De Kameliet of Geert Van Hecke in the centre of Bruges, had already decided to close.
But now De Mangeleer and Boudens are coming back, with Hertog Jan at Botanic in Antwerp. It will open only two weeks a month with a limited dining room of only 22 covers in the Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp, close to the Botanical Gardens and to Het Gebaar, the tearoom run by pastry chef Roger Van Damme, and so a destination well known to foodies.
Hertog Jan at Botanic opens this coming week, 5 October.