Today we're time travelling from before the creation of the café and co-working space to the future. Follow the adventure through the words of Hanna and Julien, the founders.
How did it all happen?
Brussels is a fantastic hive of activity filled with talented people and freelancers wanting to create a business! But when such people are launching a new project they don't necessarily have the money to rent an office. That's why we wanted to provide a space with flexible rates that adapts to that reality. We also wanted to create a warm and cozy athmosphere for people to gather, meet and network. That's why having a café and a restaurant on the ground floor meant a lot to us. – Hanna
How did you and Julien meet?
We worked together in a restaurant in Brussels. I was working there as a waitress and Julien was the dining room manager. – Hanna
At the time, Hanna had already been working on the idea. She noticed Julien's dormant talent and entrepreneurial spirit so she invited him to join the adventure. Julien was seduced by the project and accepted to take on the challenge. Le Phare du Kanaal opened six months later, in September 2016.
It made perfect sense to create a café and co-working space in Brussels. There was no reason why it shouldn't work. Until then I'd had a lot of ideas that had never been made concrete. Hanna gave me the final drive, she is full of energy! And two heads are usually better than one. – Julien
What are the values that you have wanted to inflate to such project?
One word: human-centered. We want Le Phare du Kanaal to be a local, attentive and bond building place, in the co-working space as well as in the café. That's why we organize a lot of events – have a look at our Facebook page. We want our visitors and Sailors – co-working members – to feel at home. We also work on developing collaboration in every possible direction: with and between our producers, our Sailors, non-profits and institutions from our neighborhood, etc. – Hanna
Regarding the food, we want to serve well-reasoned, healthy and tasty food. That's why we deeply promote local food networks, showing our clients that it is possible to make good, affordable food in a sustainable and committed way. The majority of our products come from less than 80 km away. For instance, I know exactly who harvests our carrots, because I see and talk to them every week at our food cooperative. And when you eat a carrot soup in Le Phare, your money goes directly to the market gardeners. – Julien
What are the ingredients to a great café and co-working space?
It's a café where you feel at home, where you can have effortless contacts with the surrounding people. It's a place where you can easily forget time. – Julien
My dream space is the one that we have created by responding to the demand of a new generation of freelancers. It is meant to be more than an office. The place needs to live! My goal was to really break the freelancers' potential isolation and/or solitude. – Hanna
What's new for 2017?
- We now have our own Wall of Farm, where we put the spotlight on our (guest star) producers.
- We open on the first Sunday of each month for our 100% homemade and local brunch besides every Saturday brunch.
- We will also test new things, such as a grocery corner in the café, where we will sell some of our producers' (honey, wine, jam…) and own products (like our famous granola).
- Until 9 February, we are extending Christmas for potential co-workers: the 10-day pass costs 100 € instead of 130 €. A perfect deal to start the 2017 business year! We are also developing partnerships with other entrepreneurial actors and projects in order to organize activities together and boost our Sailors. There has been/will be Social Media workshops, freelance cafés, Sailors' meetings, meet-ups, and there's even a possibility of getting a massage (by a professional) while working!
- Last but not least, we are setting in motion the Sailor Sponsorship: Le Phare du Kanaal will offer a 5-day pass to presents sailors who conince new sailors to come co-working with us.
What about in 5 years? Where do you think you will be?
Hopefully, our café and co-working place will be thriving in less than five years and won't need us to come every day, so we'll be able to launch other projects. – Julien
It will always be like our baby, but I hope that in five years it will be a lasting and healthy business. – Hanna