CHIEVRES, WHT, BELGIUM
Story by Julie Piron
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux
CHIÈVRES, Belgium – At an installation where community and friendliness pair together like coffee and milk, the Bene Brew Café and Pub officially opened its doors March 11 at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Tommy Mize, director of Installation Management Command Directorate – Europe.
The facility, operated by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, immediately next to the Community Activity Center and fitness area, offers patrons coffee, breakfast and lunch foods with more to come in the near future.
“Bene Brew was envisioned and created to fill a community need,” said Stacy Perez, FMWR director, “to offer a place where Soldiers and Families can come together.”
“The intent is that Bene Brew becomes a place for people to gather, break bread, share a brew (or two), spread some cheer with one another and share a few stories about the rich tradition and history of the grounds we do work on every day,” said Col. James Yastrzemsky, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux commander. “It will become the place where everybody knows your name and are always glad you came. I learn something new about the rich history of our Benelux every day, and this will be our place to share some of those stories with each other.”
This project started as a concept in 2016 and became a physical reality in 2020. As a final step, the interior design, completed in January 2021, incorporated elements of Chièvres’ aviation history. Also in keeping with the local elements, some of the menu items bear the names of local landmarks.
After almost five years of preparation, from planning to construction, the Bene Brew has put every effort into offering a pleasant place to spend time and socialize. In the future, the coffee shop is meant to serve as a hub where people can bond and celebrate special events.
The Bene Brew welcomed its first customers after much effort.
“We overcame several challenges with this project from construction to preparing to open,” said Perez. “During construction, we recognized the need to enhance infrastructure and safety requirements. Construction phase ended in July / August 2020 timeframe, which presented challenges with German vendors crossing the border to install equipment.”
“I am tremendously proud of our Team for all the behind-the-scene efforts to bring this outstanding service to our community,” said Yastrzemsky. “I am pumped to deliver some additional exciting initiatives in the months ahead as we continue to improve our product for our customers. We look forward to seeing you at the Bene Brew soon – Cheers to the Bene Brew team and cheers to the Benelux!”
After months of physical preparation, which the pandemic impacted, the Bene Brew recruited its manager in October. David Frère received Starbucks training and certification to offer Starbucks products. He has also met the numerous other training requirements to manage a food and beverage operation.
“Ideally it would be three people working behind the bar in addition to me right now; we are only two,” said Frère, “but we continue to actively recruit additional staff to provide better support.”
The coffee shop’s team will offer a wide variety of drinks, bagels and baguettes. For those using the fitness center next door, the Bene Brew also offers fruit smoothies and protein powder mixes.
Located, as the venue is, in a country famous for its beer, the restaurant also sought to give the “Brew” in its name a second meaning.
“We will offer different kinds of Belgian beers,” said Frère, “and we are currently working on developing our own beer.”
“The plans the Garrison has for Bene Brew to be a meeting place for this community to come together and share camaraderie will come to fruition,” said Mize during the conclusion of the grand opening event. “This is only one of the many things this garrison has planned for the future.”
The Bene Brew Café and Pub is currently open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
To learn more, visit https://chievres.armymwr.com/programs/bene-brew-cafe-and-pub.
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