Creators of Wolf food hall plan new location in Ixelles
The people behind the Wolf food market in Brussels are planning to open a second location in the city next year, reports Bruzz. The new food market similar to one on Rue du Fossé aux Loups in the city centre, which opened at the end of 2019, will be created in a former garage and car park between Rue Saint-Boniface and Rue Francart in Ixelles, should approval go ahead.
The permit application has been submitted and the plans are being analysed by the municipal authorities. If the permits are granted, this new gourmet food hall will open its doors in the second half of 2023.
Gourmet food halls have become very trendy in Europe. In Brussels, the Wolf location has paved the way for other initiatives such as the Tour & Taxis food market, inaugurated last year, and the upcoming project in the former Axa building in Watermael-Boitsfort backed by the investors of the Wolf food hall. There's also the Eataly project, in the old Actiris building on Boulevard Anspach, which is scheduled to open next year.
Saint-Boniface will therefore join these neighbourhoods to host a similar concept. But it will not be a Wolf 2, assures one of its promotors Thierry Goor. It will be its own experience, he says.
"The project will be part of the Saint-Boniface neighbourhood, which has been transformed into a pedestrian area since 2020,” Goor told RTBF. "We want to bring about 15 food trucks or counters and a unique customer experience to the district. None of the Wolf brands will be present in this new food market. We really want something different. We want every place to be unique. Ixelles will be unique, as the Wolf is unique, as the Axa project in Boitsfort will be unique."
Some of the unique differences planned for the Saint-Boniface location include a bakery, a coffee roasting area, a micro-brewery and an urban vegetable garden on the roof. "The urban roof garden will be accessible to people in the neighbourhood," said Goor. All of these activities will be grouped in a real estate complex of more than 3000 m² with two entrances, at 19 Rue Francart and one at 25-27 Rue Saint-Boniface. Other levels will be reserved for housing.
"It's an important space with three levels of 1000 m² each,” explained Goor. “On the ground floor, we will create an interior street making it possible to go from Rue Francart to Rue Saint-Boniface while crossing the food market. The capacity will be from 800 to 1000 people."
Each food hall targetting different audiences
Why invest in this busy district in the heart of Matongé, where several catering establishments are already present? "Brussels is a succession of villages with quite different populations,” said Goor. “This weekend at the Wolf, we welcomed a lot of tourists. At Porte de Namur, the population is quite different. In Boitsfort, it's something else. So, each time, they are totally different target audiences who all adhere to a new way of going to restaurants, of consuming."
"We are rethinking the way we eat out," he added. "A lot of sectors have made a turning point. When we look at how people choose to live, a lot of young people are today much more inclined to turn to cohabitations. This idea of sharing found in cohabs and food markets is a fundamental element of what society demands today. Being in a place where you can share things has become something essential especially in view of the climatic context, health, etc."
It's no secret that the coronavirus crisis has hurt the hospitality industry. The Wolf had to close several times following government decisions. The idea of new establishments therefore remains risky for investors. "Obviously covid has been a disaster,” said Goor. “However, the crisis forced us to be creative. We were able to reinvent ourselves, to think about other projects like the one in Ixelles."
"We welcomed 5,500 people to the Wolf during the last weekend,” he added. “That is to say we recorded numbers similar to those before covid. We are therefore more than satisfied and comforted in the idea that the food market is the catering of the future because it is fast, cheap, diversified, friendly, suitable for all targets, young and old. It's a model that has proven itself in the world. And in Brussels, it works well."
If I were the neighbors of that new project in Ixelles, I would check if Wolf is currently respecting the conditions of the environmental permit it got from Brussels. Go ask people living close to it what they think... You might find that little endeavour quite edifying.