“We brought the inside out,” A Bite of Belgium owner Jodie York said about their huge dining tent – it can seat up to 250 people – located behind the restaurant at 741 N. Alameda Blvd., No. 16.
Planter boxes are filled with colorful flowers, plants and even strawberries, and the interior is cooled by two five-ton air conditioners and medical-grade air ducts, she said. It even has music and chandeliers. The tent offers the same customer service to outdoor diners, and there are even restrooms nearby.
“We want to be here for Las Cruces,” said Jodie York, who opened A Bite of Belgium with her husband, Jim, in October 2012. They have owned Telstar Networks of Las Cruces since 1980.
The Yorks and their staff survived a kitchen fire in May 2018 that closed the restaurant for more than three months. After a grand re-opening that August, they were making plans to expand when Covid-19 hit. The Yorks stopped indoor service twice because of public health orders, but still managed to serve 450 people curbside last Thanksgiving. A planned full re-opening in February was delayed two weeks because of road construction on Van Patten Avenue on the restaurant’s north side.
Jodie York said she received texts from many regular customers “to make sure we were OK. Talk about making you feel good,” she said.
Regulars have returned to dine in the tent or back inside the building from Las Cruces, El Paso and surrounding areas and from as far away as Albuquerque, Phoenix and Tucson.
“We must be doing something right,” Jodie York said.
And even when public health orders are lifted and the restaurant can return to 100 percent indoor service, the Yorks have no plans to take down the tent. Their guests are loving outdoor dining, Jodie York said, and she and her husband plan to continue it and also to use the tent for large events.
“We wanted it up for good,” Jodie York said.
A Bite of Belgium serves breakfast all day and also serves lunch. You can call ahead and make reservations for both meals.
The restaurant’s menu includes its signature Belgian waffles and even Belgian biscuits made from waffle dough and a “Belgian Burger” made with caramelized onions and Gouda cheese. It also has a gluten-free menu. The Yorks already have a beer and wine license and, under the state’s new liquor law, will soon add a full bar, Jodie York said.
As it continues to thrive and grow, A Bite of Belgium is looking to hire more staff, Jodie York said. It currently has 25 employees, but needs 35, she said, and is hiring all positions, including servers, bussers, line cooks and prep cooks.
“I do appreciate my staff,” Jodie York said. “They work hard for us.”