After more than 12 years in business, will be closing its doors in late Fall, both at its Kent location and its store in New Canaan, CT.
“We have accomplished everything we wanted to do,” says Owner & Chef Pierre Gilissen. “When we first opened in Kent in the year 2000, some people were actually betting money that our business would fail, but it has done better than anybody ever imagined.”
In fact, many people have come to associate the town of Kent with the little yellow Belgian chocolate shop near the corner of Rt. 7 and 341. Belgique has become a destination for customers all over the area and beyond.
Co-owner Susan Gilissen says, “It’s been great to have so much recognition over the years. We have been named ‘Best Chocolates,’ ‘Best Desserts,’ and even ‘One of the Best Hot Chocolates in the World.’ One of our desserts was on the cover of ‘Connecticut Magazine,’ we’ve been interviewed by The New York Times and The Boston Globe, and we’ve had television exposure on The Food Channel and Martha Stewart Living.”
In addition, Belgique has provided its handmade chocolates for events with such notables as President George W. Bush, England’s Queen Elizabeth II, and King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium. Its enviable clientele includes actors, fashion designers and politicians.
So what comes next for a chocolate chef? Gilissen has accepted a job at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C. as Residence Manager and Comptroller.
A large part of that role includes supervising about 18 staff, including chefs, gardeners, butlers and housekeepers to ensure the Residence is maintained and operating at the highest possible standard for the Ambassador, his family, and the some 15,000 guests who visit it each year.
Gilissen is not a stranger to Washington, D.C. Before opening Belgique, he worked at embassies there for 10 years, first as Sous Chef for the British Ambassador’s Residence and later as Executive Chef & Manager at the Dutch Ambassador’s Residence.
Although there is not an exact date for when the stores will close, estimates are for sometime around the end of October after leaf-peeping season. The Gilissens will put the Kent property (two buildings on the busycorner of routes 7 & 341) for sale. Customers who have balances on their gift cards are encouraged to redeem them as soon as possible.