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Belgian Beer Café to Enter U.S., With Plans For Major Expansion

September 23, 2011

Belgian Beer Cafe, the chain of about 60 casual-dining restaurants worldwide, will open its first U.S. unit later this year at Newark Liberty Airport, and expansion into other U.S. markets is expected. Anheuser-Busch InBev owns the rights and licenses to the Belgian brasserie-themed operation in markets outside the U.S., while Creneau International NV, a Belgian interior design agency, has obtained the licensing and franchise rights to the venue in the U.S. The New Jersey location is expected to open in December. While additional units are planned, the company didn’t specify potential markets. One report projects up to 60 U.S. cafés within the next three to four years in markets including New York and Boston.

Launched by then-named InBev in 1998, Belgian Beer Cafe now operates in about a dozen countries. The venue serves up classic Belgian cuisine and draft and bottled Belgian brews, with units ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 square feet. Typically, the operation offers between 20 and 40 Belgian beer varieties—both bottled and draft—and classic Belgian dishes like Flemish beef stew, steak and frites, asparagus soup and mussels with Belgian fries.

This marks the first foray into the hospitality business for Belgium-based Creneau, which has worked closely with A-B InBev and has designed every unit of the concept. According to the website for the U.S. operation, Creneau International is seeking “restaurant entrepreneurs in the upper segment of the market that have a proven history of operating one or more high-quality venues.” Potential licensed franchisees are also expected to have expertise in both beer and wine.

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