June 13, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Six ‘Friends of Le Fontainas’ bring the iconic queer café back to life

Six ‘Friends of Le Fontainas’ bring the iconic queer café back to life

One of them is Professor Steve Jacobs, who teaches at La Cambre College of Arts: “We definitely want this place to survive,” he says. “It has been an important place for LGBT people ever since many heard the word. A café where everyone was welcome, and we want to keep that going.”

The old Le Fontainas was a popular nightlife spot in Brussels’ LGBTQIA+ community, located on the Kolenmarkt.

The group aims to reopen its doors at the end of the summer. “But the whole thing is very complicated, and I can’t give a specific opening date yet,” Jacobs says. Restoration work is still ongoing at the café. “The roof turned out to be not structurally stable enough. The toilets were a real weak point in the old café, which is being completely renovated.”

Crowdfunding

That’s why the initiators also created a crowdfunding system, and it’s going well. At the beginning of May, only €800 had been raised, but they have now raised almost €4,000, or 39 percent of their goal. “This is more than I expected, because crowdfunding a company is a bit sensitive,” Jacobs answers. “But we are so grateful, even if a little overwhelmed, for the support that the LGBT community has.”

The team also has some experience. Three of the six initiators had previously worked at the café, including Jacobs himself. “I worked there for six years from the beginning,” he says. As a reminder, the first version of Le Fontainas was opened in 2001.

Although the initiators are mainly concerned with preserving the location, they also want to introduce a number of innovations, such as “better coffee service that also starts earlier,” says Jacobs. He’s also thinking about holding more events, such as local artist showcases and DJ nights. “We also plan to make our café available to associations that want, for example, to give film screenings or organize a pub competition.”

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Local, seasonal, sustainable

In addition, a new menu is also in the works: “We are still looking for a chef, but we already know what we want to do: a kitchen with local, seasonal and sustainable products.”

Friends of the café have also set up crowdfunding to support the business during the Corona period. But the support at that time turned out to be a drop in the bucket. The café went bankrupt in December 2023.