Antwerp counts more bars and restaurants and notices rise of ‘fast casual’ eateries

In 2022, the City of Antwerp once again carried out a detailed catering measurement and confirms its top position as a catering city. The site survey carried out by the city maps the supply of catering in Antwerp and compares it with the previous measurements in 2010, 2013 and 2017. 

The report shows strong figures, with an expansion of catering areas that are locally anchored, a growing density and a renewal of the range due to new trends and catering chains.

The measurement of the Antwerp catering centers 2022‘ is a field study into the supply in the catering centers of the city. The study maps this supply and compares it with the previous measurements in 2010, 2013 and 2017. The figures from this report show what the density is and whether the mix is in balance. 

The city officials uses these insights to optimally shape its policy.

Catering centres

In the measurement of 2022, the city is divided into 15 catering centres, which are areas that meet a number of conditions. There must be at least ten active catering establishments, more than 30% of the commercial premises must be catering and more than 20% of all premises must have a catering function.

The 15 catering centers are:

  1. Historic centre.
  2. Central Station.
  3. ‘t Zuid (South).
  4. ‘t Eilandje, around the Musem Aan de Stroom (MAS).
  5. Theatre neighbourhood.
  6. Sint-Jansplein.
  7. Schipperskwartier-Koepoort.
  8. Zurenborg.
  9. Bolivar and Troonplaats.
  10. De Coninckplein.
  11. University and students’ neighborhood.
  12. Lange Lobroek and Dam.
  13. Boomgaardstraat-De Koninck
  14. Sportpaleis.
  15. Sinyt-Anneke.

Compared to previous measurements, three new catering centers have been added to the study in 2022: De Coninckplein, Bolivar-Troonplaats and Boomgaardstraat-De Koninck.

The largest catering area remains the Historic Center. The measurements show that this area continues to grow, with 326 catering establishments already established. The Central Station area and the Zuid area follow in second and third place.

Rise in catering density

The density, the number of catering establishments compared to the total number of premises, has increased by 1.5% across all cores. This favorable evolution shows that the clustering of catering in the centers is growing.

Local anchoring

The report shows that the hospitality industry is spreading throughout the city, reaching a local audience more often, as is the case with the new Boomgaardstraat-De Koninck centre. 

The local supply ensures a good commercial mix, but also social control in some neighbourhoods.

A positive side effect is the many partnerships with local shops that result from this. In the centres of ‘t Eilandje and Schipperskwartier-Koepoort, for example, the figures indicate that an increase in the number of catering establishments is accompanied by an increase in the number of shops in the area.

Alderman for the Hospitality Industry Koen Kennis (N-VA): “I’ve said that before, I believe in cross-pollination between different sectors. What’s good for the hospitality industry is good for the retail sector, and vice versa, and is ultimately good for Antwerp. The entrepreneurs of those catering centers also unite and that also makes it easier to enter into a dialogue with the city during a reconstruction or when they want to organize something together.”

New trends

The classic catering offer, such as cafes or taverns, is making way for some new trends. For example, there is the rise of ‘fast casual‘, with a growing number of takeaway shops. In 11 of the 15 centres, this type is increasing in number, in Lange Koepoortstraat, for example, this evolution is clearly noticeable. The new trends respond to the current needs of consumers: more sensitive to trends, fast and cheap, but not necessarily unhealthy.

Koen Kennis: “These kinds of things provide experience and color in our street. Antwerp is therefore not only a city of star restaurants and well-known chefs. Street food from South Korea; sandwich bars with our own pickled vegetables or sugar-free sweets, we have it all here.”

Catering chains

In recent years, the city has seen a growing range of catering chains and new concepts in Antwerp. 

The business model of such chains responds to the market by providing an affordable and exciting offering. Opening multiple branches is also often a more cost-efficient way of operating for owners.

Food, gastronomy and restaurants

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