The history of the « Duc de Bourgogne » goes back to April 27th 1648, when a person named Popieul was given permission to build a new establishment on the Tanner's Square, next to the Tanner's Corporation Guild Hall. A 17th century painting, made by an anonymous artist, depicts this well-known sight. From the very beginning, the new building must have been a public house, named « Den Hollander» (The Dutchman).
In 1830, the name « Den Hollander» no longer appealed to the ear of the brand-new 'Belgians', who just then became independent from Holland. Hence, the original name was replaced by « La Vache » (The Cow). However, local people continued to use both names for this leading establishment, frequented by the elite of the town.
In the second half of the 19th century, an important British colony settled in Bruges. Among them, for example, sculptor Alfred Gilbert, who created the Eros Fountain for London's Picadilly Circus. The artist lived most of his adult life in Bruges and his second wife was a Bruges lady. It is assumed that these British locals were regular customers for 'afternoon teas' and probably under their influence the house was renamed as «The Carlton».
During the second world war, when the Carlton had become the property of a noble family from the neighbourhood of Bruges, plans were drawn up for a fairly radical restoration. The architect returned to the building's original facade with the two step-gables. After the war these plans were carried out, with a special grant from the City of Bruges. The first post-war tenant, Maurice De Clerck, re-opened the premises in 1947. He gave his restaurant a new name, the « Duc de Bourgogne ».
In 1966 Maurice de Clerck retired. The Van de Vijver family of the East Flanders Province became the next occupant. The family-business already owned several other first-class restaurants, such as the «Park Hotel» in Lokeren. Joseph Van de Vijver, the «Godfather» of the family (in the positive sense), saw the chance of a lifetime to crown his life's work. He was a man with vision and didn't hesitate for one moment. His son and daughter-in-law, Willy and Gaby Van de Vijver, were given the responsibility to run the «Duke» in the future.
Moreover, the new tenants had ambitious plans: the «Duke» should become a pinnacle of culinary achievement. By this time, the connoisseurs' pallet had also developed, leaning towards the more exotic, the more exclusive preparations and combinations. Successive chefs each contributed their skills to form the taste of locals and visitors.
In 1987 Willy Van de Vijver retired in his turn, exactly 20 years after he started, just like the former tenant. The last wish of the late father Van de Vijver was respected. He always insisted on keeping the «Duke» in the family. Paul and Therese Grobet-Van de Vijver, brother-in-law and sister of Willy, took over, after having run the «Chateau de Laarne» for many years. Th. Van de Vijver was owner till December 2010.
In February 2016, the restaurant was acquired by a new couple. The authenticity of "the Duc" will be maintained, but a fresh wind blows through the business to restore the former glory of the building.