Our history

Albert Niels (1917-1978)

68, historical year

In 1968 our father and grandfather Albert Niels (1917-1978) took over le Café de la Justice. He also purchased the building.

It is a place lost between the top and the bottom of the city of Brussels, inhabited and appreciated by many artists. Back then it was an insignificant square situated between up and downtown Brussels and a dwelling place for numerous artists. Hergé had his studio on the square. René Magritte and Paul Delvaux were frequent visitors. The artists of the movement COBRA held their meetings at 30 rue de la Paille.

Albert Niels undertakes renovation work in collaboration with the Belgian designer Christophe Gevers. The decoration, revolutionary at the time, favored noble materials such as solid oak, brass, copper, leather and blue stone. Lots of works of various artists hanged on the walls in the restaurant.

The story continues...

In november 1968 the restaurant opens its doors. From the first moment on, it proved successful, and its turnover grew steadily.

Albert Niels was a great art collector, and in 1965 during an auction he found a sculpture of Saint Martin dating from XVI century, and he decided to name his restaurant after this Patron Saint of the poor. He decides to give back the original name of the place to his restaurant and to make it his emblem.

In 1988, Albert Niels’ two sons, Albert-Jean and Philippe, undertook major modernization work.

Since 2011, this true Brussels institution is managed by Albert-Jean Niels and his son Frédéric.

2024: Already a century at your service! This year marks the centenary of the invention of the “Filet Américain” by our ancestor Joseph Niels in 1924.

Niels Family


Birth of Joseph Niels, son of farmers from Pajottenland


Joseph Niels decides to go to Great Britain and he starts working in the Savoy Hotel in London


Joseph Niels returns to Belgium. He becomes the director of the restaurant called La Taverne Royale in the “Galeries de la Reine”


Joseph Niels creates the recipe for the dish named “Filet Américain”,
which is still the same today


Joseph Niels opens the hotel-restaurant Canterbury located at 129 Boulevard Emile Jacqmain


Independant Pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition


Joseph Niels passes away His sons Albert (1917-1978) and Georges (1919-2000) continue his work


Opening of “Nielsvins”
Opening of the restaurant of the Claridge Hotel in
Buenos Aires Argentina


The Argentine government ask Albert and Georges Niels to represent the Argentine Pavilion at the Brussels World Exhibition Albert Niels continues to work with his sons Michel, Philippe and Albert-Jean


Opening of the restaurant “Au Vieux Saint Martin” on the Grand Sablon


Opening of the restaurant La Marie-Joseph located at the Fishmarket


Opening of the Restaurant Au Duc d’Arenberg Place du Petit Sablon


Death of Albert Niels His sons take over the business but Michel quickly decides to go his separate way


Opening of the Restaurant “Le Canterbury” in Ixelles


Albert-Jean together with his son Frédéric run the restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin


Opening of the “Au Grand Forestier” in Watermael-Boitsfort


Opening van Les Chambres de Martin above our restaurant Au Vieux Saint Martin


Opening of the restaurant Au Savoy on Place Georges Brugmann in Ixelles


Launch of « Alfred », a take-out and delivery service for prepared meals


Opening of the « Claridge » located in Waterloo


We’re celebrating our centenary!

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