The Duc de Bourgogne has a rich history dating back to the 1600s. In April 1648, mr. Popieul received a building permit from the city of Bruges to build a new inn on the Huidenvettersplein, next to the guild house of the tanners.
Since the very beginning, the building housed a tavern called ‘Den Hollander’ (The Dutchman). This was later immortalized in a 17th century painting by an unknown Flemish master.
The building was renamed ‘De Hollandse Koe’ (The Dutch Cow) in 1830. The Belgians, who had just forced their independence on the Dutch, thought the original name no longer suited the ‘place to be’ for the elite of Bruges.
In the second half of the 19th century, an important group of British people settled in the heart of Bruges. Among them was renowned sculptor Alfred Gilbert. He lived here most of his life and remarried a woman from Bruges. However, they kept their afternoon tea tradition, and soon the building was renamed the ‘Carlton’.
During the Second World War, the building was owned by a noble family from Bruges. The new owners decided to thoroughly renovate the building. The architect returned to the original style. The first post-war owner, Maurice De Clerck, reopened the restaurant as the ‘Duc de Bourgogne’ (Duke of Burgundy). When De Clerck retired in 1966, the Van de Vijver family took over the business. In the meantime the restaurant was already popularly called ‘den Duc’ by the locals.
The family of East Flemish origin already owned several hotel restaurants in Belgium, such as the Parkhotel in Lokeren. Jozef Van de Vijver, the patriarch of the family, considered the acquisition to be the cherry on his cake. The exploitation was entrusted to his eldest son. He set a goal to lift the restaurant to the top of the culinary scene. They succeeded wonderfully and the Duc de Bourgogne became a synonym for gastronomy. Art was now also served at the table.
Twenty years later, in 1987, mr. Van de Vijver retired. After some fuss about his succession, the business was kept inside the family. Paul and Thérèse Grobet-Van de Vijver took over the restaurant after running another business for 30 years. Until December 2010, Therèse Van de Vijver and her daughter held the reins.
In February 2016, the business was acquired by 3 new owners: Anje Jonckheere, husband Luc Broes and former colleague Fangio Schoonbaert. The authenticity of ‘den Duc’ is preserved, but a fresh wind blows through the business to restore it to its former glory.