Brussels café Monk to reopen under new management and with new name

Brussels café Monk will reopen in January under new management, Bruzz reports. The popular bar and restaurant in the Dansaert quarter of the city was forced to close in May when the landlord decided not to extend the operator’s lease. After renovations, it will return in the new year under the name Billie.

The new management team say they will stay true to the bar’s concept, as a traditional “brown café” with its Art Nouveau restaurant serving spaghetti. 

“You’ll still be able to drink coffee while reading the newspaper, there will be dancing on Fridays and spaghetti will be served in the little room in the back, as before,” Dries Heyman told Bruzz. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to take over the entire kitchen team.”

"The most important thing is that it will be as good a bar, where everyone is welcome. The older generation will probably continue to call it Monk"

The café is currently a building site, while the drains and roof are replaced and repaired. A new kitchen and toilet block are being installed and the facade will be renovated. The old name will disappear too. While Monk was a reference to jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, Billie is a nod to his contemporary Billie Holiday.

“The most important thing is that it will be as good a bar, where everyone is welcome,” said Heymans. “You have to let a new name be accepted, which will take some time. The older generation will probably continue to call it Monk.”

Thirty candidates applied to take on the lease from owner Horeca Logistics Services (HLS). Previous operator Filip Jans took HLS to court following the bar’s closure and criticised the company in the media over restrictive brewery contracts, which he said were strangling the industry. 

Jans announced at the time of his departure in May that he wanted to re-establish Monk elsewhere in the city. “That’s still the plan, but it’s not easy,” he told Bruzz. “You have to find a good spot. Many premises have breweries or liquor dealers as their owners or main tenants.”



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