Gastronomy has always been one of my passions, so a few months ago I saw that there was a new restaurant just five minutes from school. I was immediately interested so I started to search for any reviews online and the history of the restaurant. The story of the owners struck me a lot and I decided to interview them. I am sure that you will all fall in love with their story as much as I did.
1. Tell me who you are?
My name is Alice and my husband Alex, we have been together for about 10 years. I’ve always admired everything that has to do with food. When I was a little girl I always got very excited to go to restaurants with my parents, it always felt like a new adventure to discover. I am so lucky that I found someone who shares the same passion as I do. They are no words in the entire world to describe how wonderful it is to work with Alex.
2. What were your studies?
We both studied restoration and it led us to open our own restaurant.
3. What was your biggest inspiration?
Our greatest inspiration was our passion for local food and cheese. We have always wanted to convey that passion that we feel for the food into our dishes and that is why we do it with so much love.
4. How did you have the motivation after your first restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Irma?
At first, it was a great disappointment we didn’t have that much and it all happened so sudden. We thought that our dream had been destroyed. But we were both raised to not be quitters so we decided to relocate to Belgium and build our business from there. We worked very hard to rebuild our new restaurant, after a year of hard work we got this place and decided to relocate here. And now that everything is working well, we are happy with this new opportunity.
5. Why did you decide to put this restaurant in the centre of Brussels?
Our first choice was always Brussels, it is a city much appreciated by tourists and many students pass by here daily. It was an idea that suddenly came to us, we also have a lot of friends that live here. We would also like to thanks all our friends for helping me and Alex rebuild our lives.
6. Is it true that it is very expensive to set up a restaurant?
Compared to Saint Martin in European countries it is less expensive to set up a restaurant. In San Martin it is very expensive to set up a restaurant.
7. Have networks been a method to attract more clients to your restaurant?
Thanks to social media we have been able to promote our restaurant easily. Our clients always post pictures on Instagram or on Facebook and that’s how we attract more clients every day.
8. Why did you choose this name for the restaurant?
This name is an abbreviation of a good friend in English. When we were little and we were with our friends we always used to say “MY MAD” among us. After we set up our restaurant in San Martin all our friends used to say we are going to eat with MAY MAD, so we decided to name the restaurant MAMEN. Me and my partner have always been good friends and we want to convey that to our clients. We always want them to feel at home when they step there first foot into our restaurant.
9. Why did you choose this concept ?
We have chosen this concept because we are cheese lovers. We have always loved the product, you can use it in several ways and it always gives a special touch to the food. We make the food in front of the customers because we want them to apricate and admire the food as much as it is important to us. Apart from making the food we sell the cheeses to the customers so they take a piece of us every time they come and remember the rich food they just ate.
10. What is special about your restaurant?
The most special thing about our restaurant is that it’s built with lots of love, and the food is made with love. Our concept is very original, apart from that we have for each type of person a dish, with a specific type of organic cheese.
11. How do you organize your menu?
Our menu is made from our star dishes, apart from that we change our menu during every season. Because here in Belgium everything changes at every moment.
12. Do you sell organic products?
Our cheeses are all organic, we work with some Belgian and French companies and farms that are responsible for making our cheese. It is very important not only for the environment but also because chemical cheeses do not have the same flavours as those made locally. When we lived on our island we were accustomed to eating natural food as in almost all Latin America not everything is made with chemicals but by hand.
13. Do you sell Belgian drinks?
We clearly sell Belgian drinks and work with a company that sells us its BRABANCE beer and we also sell the typical Belgian beer BIERE BRUXELLOIS. In the future we will introduce more typical products of the city.
14. What is your advice for young entrepreneurs?
For young dreamers, we advise you to never stop dreaming. The most important thing to have is a lot of positive attitude and to never give up. They must also always be prepared because setting up a restaurant is not one of easiest things to do, but never forget to do everything with a lot of love and passion.