hub heroes

Portraits of a city’s success stories

We team up with, Brussels’ Business Support Agency, and shine a light on 50 of the Region’s start-up success stories driving the capital city’s economic landscape forward. From the eco-conscious manufacturer to the technology-enabled post-production imprint, our 50-strong selection of portraits and interviews plays testament to the Region’s dense and dynamic culture of entrepreneurship.



Florence Van Leuven

What would be your two-minute elevator pitch?

BALLEKES stands for perpetuating Belgian food culture in modernity. We specialise in Belgian meatballs, sauces, fries and beers – all our meatballs and sauces are homemade with fresh and local ingredients, while our menu is inspired by our grandmothers’ recipes. Our concept is simple: choose your ball of choice from pork and beef, chicken or veggie; pick a sauce between tomato, rabbit, Kriek, Trappist, mushroom or the monthly special; then decide a side from fries, croquettes, salad or Brussels sprouts. We are committed in offering a unique and qualitative customer experience, all at a reasonable price.

BALLEKES started three years ago with a first location in Janson. Last year, we opened two new spots in the heart of Brussels, one by the Grand Place and another in the lively neighbourhood of Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne. In the near future, we’re planning to expand, both within Belgium and abroad, and share our love for traditional Belgian meatballs with the world. Sharing is caring, right?

List three factors that make Brussels’ entrepreneurship landscape unique.

  • Brussels is the second most cosmopolitan city in the world after Dubai.
  • Despite being a small city, Brussels is a great source of inspiration for entrepreneurs. It has a long economic history and a strong cultural tradition in the arts, music, literature and architecture.
  • Brussels is a city of opportunities with plenty of public and private institutions which help new entrepreneurs flourish and innovate.

What are the three biggest challenges you faced when starting up your business?

  • Starting from scratch and learning the “hard way” how to start and manage a restaurant business.
  • Finding the money for our first investments: family, friend and fools.
  • Finding the right location was a time-consuming activity, but it had to be done right. 

Start small, stay consistent and (maybe) finish big.

How did you benefit from’ expertise in the conception of your business?

It’s a great source of information for all sorts of market trends and statistics. Their team is made up of individuals with various specialities – think start-ups, financing, subsidies, exporting, marketing, real-estate – and who can readily answer our questions or doubts when starting or growing a business. Finally, they have a list of available business locations, sometimes even before they go public.

List three pieces of advice you would give to the budding entrepreneur.

  • Don’t give up when things go wrong; be creative instead.
  • Start small, stay consistent and (maybe) finish big.
  • No bullshit: have integrity with your team and clients. Your long-term survival depends on it.
174 Chaussée de Charleroise Steenweg (1060)
Rue Sainte-Catherine 37 Sint-Katelijnestraat (1000)
Rue des Chapeliers 3 Hoedenmakersstraat (1000)

Do you want to explore new horizons like Florence?