January 10, 2012 // Franchising.com // Hasselt, Belgium - Creneau International, one of Belgium’s premier design agencies, recently announced plans to develop Belgian Beer Cafe´, a unique Belgian bar/restaurant concept, on American soil for the first time. Though Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) owns and licenses the Belgian Beer Cafe´ on a global level, Creneau International will hold ownership rights in the U.S.
The more than 60 Belgian Beer Cafe´s around the world, located in about a dozen countries, are all licensed or franchised by AB InBev to individual owners or groups of investors. Only in the U.S. will Creneau International develop and franchise the concept.
Created in 1998, Belgian Beer Cafe´ 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 cafe´.
The first Belgian Beer Cafe´ Creneau International is bringing stateside is tentatively scheduled to open at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in late 2011 / early 2012. Overall, franchise/licensing projections call for the opening of approximately 60 Belgian Beer Cafe´s in the U.S. within three to four years.
Creneau International has been associated with Belgian Beer Cafe´ since 1997 when the company was contracted by Belgian based Interbrew, now AB InBev, to design the Belgian Beer Cafe´ 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 Newark airport location – licensed to HMSHost – a tentative development agreement is expected to bring 10 Belgian Beer Cafe´s to the New York City, Miami and Boston metropolitan areas within the next five years.
“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 Cafe´,” 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 cafe´s already open around the world, we feel the U.S. market is primed for a proven concept like Belgian Beer Cafe´.”
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 Airport licensee, is the world’s largest provider of food, beverage and retail services for travelers.
Belgian Beer Cafe´ 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 Cafe´: 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 Cafe´ 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 cafe´, 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 Cafe´ unique based on the setting where it is located.”
As its name implies, patrons will find no better place to enjoy the incredible array of Belgian beers featured at Belgian Beer Cafe´. With a population of roughly 11 million, Belgium has more than 100 breweries that feature more than 500 different beers, each with its own composition and character and served in its own distinct glass.
Each Belgian Beer Cafe´ will typically feature 20 to 40 Belgian beers, both bottled and draught, representing a full range of flavors. Only authentic Belgian beers are available in eight different styles: Abbey, Amber, Fruit, Gueuze, Lager, Specialty, Trappist and Wheat. Each is served in the proper glassware at the proper temperature, with a specific pouring ritual (see sidebar) for draught beers.
“Belgian beers are unique because there is such a wide taste pallet among the many varieties,” Himpens said. “Each beer has a unique story and taste behind it, so there is truly a beer for everyone.”
Patrons are also sure to appreciate the delectable cuisine found in every Belgian Beer Cafe´. Each will feature a wide array of Belgian and Belgian-inspired dishes such as Mussels, Vol au Vent (a light pastry shell filled with meat), Flemish Beef Stew, Cheese and Shrimp Croquettes and much more. For the less adventurous, the menu will feature such American staples as burgers and chicken wings as well as regional favorites.
Belgian Beer Cafe´ has all the ingredients for success. And even though the U.S. economy has seen better days, Himpens believes Belgian Beer Cafe´ 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.
“The economy continues to go up and down, but consumers still want to go out to enjoy a good meal and drinks,” Himpens said. “Belgian Beer Cafe´ provides that in a very unique and attractive environment.”
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