The Mechelen Hundred

Portraits of a city's people, today

Nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen has often been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. Yet teaming up with the City of Mechelen, our line-up of 100 of the city’s most prominent people, places and projects proves the extent of its potential. From artists and creatives to critical thinkers and fighters, these are the powerhouses driving Mechelen forward one step at a time.

Jolijn Gyssels and Bart Lenaerts

Jolijn Gyssels and Bart Lenaerts

Foodies at Noen (1986,1983)

 Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.

We run a breakfast and lunch spot called Noen in the centre of Mechelen. In this bar we serve homemade food and drinks, as well as special ice cream flavours with our very own brand called ‘Eiskreem’ (“ice cream” in Flemish). We sell scoops, but we also have a small milkshake bar in the main shopping street Bruul.

Noen is located in a somewhat hidden corner of Mechelen. Mind you: this was a conscious choice, as we believe the less obvious places are always more charming. We run this place as a couple, together with the great help of a team of loyal people. Everyone who works here and all people we collaborate with are carefully selected based on their personal passion for healthy food and lifestyle.

How do you perceive Mechelen? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

We both grew up in Mechelen and we’ve seen the city go through an enormous change. In the nineties it had quite a bad reputation, but that is all in the past. It’s not a big city, but this has the advantage that you get to know almost everyone pretty quickly. It almost has a village vibe in that respect.

What would you say is Mechelen’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

We try to collaborate with as many local people as we can. We notice that there is an enormous amount of talent in the city just waiting to get exposed. We hope we can inspire these people to make their dreams come to life!

How has Mechelen contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

All the entrepreneurs in Mechelen work together or know each other, and the government supports this dynamic. Whenever we have questions or problems to solve, we can always depend on the city or the network of entrepreneurs to help us out.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

We love plants and nature, and we feel there’s still not enough of that in Mechelen. The city is doing its very best, but I think there is still room for more trees, parks, and green spots.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?

We live just outside the centre of Mechelen, and we like to go for a bike ride along the Dyle river, with a stop at the Nekker for some swimming and a picknick. After that we go for drinks or some cultural activity in the centre with friends.