Tune in, Chyl out: shop and restaurant offers easy intro to organic
From a Brussels townhouse, an organic store and eatery sells bulk goods and local produce, in the hope of showing that conscious living needn’t be a luxury
On food and drink in Flanders
The minds behind it are Nancy Eissaoui, a political scientist who specialises in sustainable development, her husband, Hassan Tabarra, who is head chef, and their friend Pierre De Greef, a fashion designer. Their diverse backgrounds complement each other perfectly.
Chyl stands for “Change Your Lifestyle, Cherish Your Life” – a slogan that could hardly be more ambitious but is meant to inspire instead of preach. “I never wanted to work in politics but felt the urge to contribute somehow on a societal level,” Eissaoui explains. “It started with the idea of offering an alternative way of consumption that reduces packaging and waste.”
That’s also the reason Chyl’s logo is a jar: The core concept of its shop is to offer an array of local and fair trade organic products that customers pay for by weight or volume, filling up their own jars with the amount they need. Accordingly, cereals, rice, pasta, nuts or soap are all stored in large dispensers.
The products used in the restaurant kitchen next door all come from Chyl’s shop, with the daily lunch option depending on which seasonal vegetables are available. The menu also features various brunch combinations (Oriental, English, Nordic…) and burgers both meat and vegetarian.
Many of our customers discover the shop because they want to buy what they’ve just eaten
“One of our biggest successes is that 80% of our clientele now choose the vegetarian version,” Eissaoui says. “We want to convince people through pleasure, not moralising.”
The strategy seems to be working. Since its launch in the summer of 2015, Chyl has continuously had to prolong its opening times due to demand, with the restaurant serving as a showroom. “Many of our customers discover the shop because they want to buy what they’ve just eaten,” Eissaoui explains.
And Chyl’s sustainable approach extends to the interior. A mixture of Scandinavian and Asian, a nod to Eissaoui’s Lebanese roots, it uses recuperated furniture such as old church benches. A truly holistic concept, then.
Chyl makes organic more approachable, dusting off its hippie and at times judgmental image. The team say they have tried to keep prices as low as possible compared to similar spots. “The goal is to show that living healthily and consciously doesn’t have to be a luxury,” says Eissaoui.