TV chef, cookbook publishing legend and restaurateur Jeroen Meus has admitted blame for the failure of his Würst chain of upscale hot dog restaurants in Leuven, Antwerp and Ghent. “I have a failing, and I’m not proud of it,” he told De Tijd in a weekend interview. “I let this out of my own hands, and that was my mistake.” Meus opened the Würst restaurant in Leuven in 2015, after running the fine-dining restaurant Luzine in the city to great success. But having become a household name with a variety of cookery shows across the Flemish TV channels, he decided to follow in the footsteps of other top chefs by offering a more popular product, but prepared according to the standards of a top restaurant.
Branches in Antwerp and Ghent followed, but Meus, perhaps because of his media commitments, was nowhere to be seen. According to industry analysts, his personal touch was missing, and that was one of his biggest selling points. In addition, a hot dog – even one dressed with top-class ingredients – is still a hot dog in the end, and people are not keen on paying inflated restaurant prices for finger food more than once.
“I’ve been enormously fortunate in life,” Meus told the paper. “I’ve often been celebrated for my work. But you can’t win them all. And you can’t be an entrepreneur without taking risks. If you stick your neck out, you run the risk of failure.”
The closure leaves the company with debts of €970,000, but Meus himself is covered: he sold his shares last year, remaining as an independent consultant.