Jean-François Flechet opened Taste of Belgium
in Findlay Market
in 2007; four years ago, he expanded his restaurant venture to Columbus’s North Market
, and a year and a half ago, he opened a full-service Belgian bistro on Vine. In the next few months, there will be two new Taste of Belgiums in the Cincinnati area—a full-service restaurant on Short Vine near UC, and a waffle counter at Friendly Market in Northern Kentucky.
The Short Vine location is on the first floor of a brand new building that includes 120 apartments. The waffle counter at Friendly Market is the only food vendor in the first phase of the market. It’s right on the edge of phase 2, which is ideal for future expansion, Flechet says.
Taste of Belgium on Short Vine will have a menu very similar to the one on Vine Street, says Flechet. But it will have more affordable options at dinnertime, such as chicken and waffles and bar food.
“There will be a bigger focus on the bar, with both Belgian and Belgian-style beer sourced from local breweries,” he says. Flechet wants to attract the college students who live around Short Vine, which is a different demographic than his customers at the bistro and Findlay Market.
Taste of Belgium is slated to open in early May at Friendly Market, and on Short Vine during the first week of July.
Flechet isn’t going the traditional route for financing his new business ventures. Instead, he’s working with local crowd-sourcing start-up SoMoLend
to raise a portion of the funds for the restaurant. He wants to promote crowd-sourced funding as a viable alternative source of financing for small businesses.
“When I opened Taste of Belgium on Vine, it was hard to get financing,” says Flechet. He wasn’t able to obtain a loan from the bank, but the building’s landlord got one through 3CDC. In turn, the landlord charges high rent to recover the loan. The North Market location was financed by a loan from a small business lender who Flechet has been working with for four years.
SoMoLend connects small business owners who are in need of a loan with investors who are looking to make a return on their investments. The organization allows borrowers to get loans from customers, friends and family members. It allows lenders to make a difference on a more local level.
“SoMoLend has been promoted on a national level, but not much on a local level,” Flechet says. He’s trying to get the word out to his customers that he’s using SoMoLend and bring more users to the lending service.
The Taste of Belgium crowd-sourcing campaign launches March 11. If you want to contribute to the campaign and are a customer, friend or family member, sign up
on SoMoLend’s website.
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter