Iconic restaurant Dikke Mee in Nachteglenpark finds new owners and a new name (Antwerp)

Antwerp ,

The famous restaurant Dikke Mee in Antwerp’s Nachteglenpark, which has been closed for some time, will get new owners and a new name. Entrepreneur duo Raphael Hellsmurtel and Serge Frank are bringing a breath of fresh air to the business with their new concept Woods, a French-Belgian kitchen where meat has a special place on the menu. “We are making a comfortable brassiere in the old Parisian style.”

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The restaurant empire of Rafael Hellsmurtel (39) and Serge Frank (38) is expanding. In addition to Sum Sum, La Taqueria, Sumac, Fugu and Tio op het Zuid, they will be opening their eighth store this summer. Woods, a brasserie with French-Belgian cuisine, will take a place in the iconic brasserie in Nachteglenpark, which has been vacant for a long time. “It will be our biggest yet,” Serge says. “In addition to the classic shrimp croquettes or fresh steak tartare, Woods’ signature would be a nice cut of meat.” Fret not for vegetarians, as they are also thought of.

The concept of his new business is accessibility for all. “Whether it’s for a business lunch, a group of cycling tourists, a friend coming over for coffee or a romantic dinner for couples in the area, everyone is welcome,” says Raphael. “At noon we offer lunch, in the afternoon we focus on pancakes, cakes and waffles and you can come here for dinner from 6 p.m. The menu includes cheaper dishes, better steaks or more expensive fine wine with suggestions of the day.

© Natida-Jeanne Kanyachlao

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Serge and Raphael used to come here to eat pancakes with their grandmother, so owning this business is extra special. “When we saw AG Vespa’s call, we had to take our own risk,” says Serge. “We will be operating this business for the next eighteen years so we have invested heavily in a new floor to ceiling and open kitchen refurbishment. However the iconic green verandah will be retained. We want everything to be tip-top be in shape and is expected to open by mid-July.

Regardless of the exact location, there is a bad image that Dikke Me Brasserie got due to its association with the drug environment and a long stamp by the ‘black team’ of the Federal Police. This has not gone unnoticed by the new owners. With the new name, Woods hopes not to fall in line with his predecessors. “From day one we do everything correctly,” says Raphael. “It’s hard work, but we want to sleep at night.” “Although we also know that some people will always call it Fat Me,” Serge says.

future plans

Serge and Raphaël are also developing a project around Uber Eats. “We will have a kitchen on the first floor of Choli where we will soon be able to focus on making takeaway food. There is not a lot of supply in that area in the region, so we expect the market to fill that gap.”

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