They are now already behind the counter, but Klevis Balashi and his girlfriend Marie Heyvaert will soon also become the owners of the iconic café Den Tuus on the Markt in Asse. The young couple does not want to change the concept much, but they do want to make the café sparkle again.
The well-known café on the Asse Market reopened its doors in February 2022 after a thorough renovation and a minor name change. It was Wim Dierick and Steven Dillen from the restaurant Den Bloeyenden, also on the Markt, who breathed new life into the Malpertuus. But while they continued to focus on their restaurant, Klevis Balashi (24) became responsible for the café. And on January 1 next year he will take over the café completely together with his girlfriend Marie Heyvaert (24).
“When Dirk, the last owner of the Malpertuus, closed his door in 2020, I was already interested in taking over the café,” says Klevis.
His family has always owned a café in Brussels and Klevis wanted to follow in their footsteps. “But I wasn’t in such a strong financial position at the time and there was a lot of work to be done on the café to make it profitable again. Fortunately, I didn’t take the plunge then because shortly afterwards corona broke out and the cafes closed.”
In 2021, Wim and Steven van Den Bloeyenden announced that they had taken over Den Tuus, as they would call the café after the renovations. “I have always worked in their restaurant. During our weekly bike ride on Thursday, they asked me if I wouldn’t like to visit Den Tuus every now and then. Something I immediately liked,” says Klevis.
Now, just over a year after its reopening, Den Tuus has grown into a popular café for young and old. “The Hopland student association comes here every week, but you also have card players who come here to play a game or visitors to the market who come here for a coffee. The interior has changed, but people continue to know the café as the Malpertuus of yesteryear.”
Living on the Market
After just over a year, Klevis and Marie thought the time was right to take over the café permanently. “That was the goal from the beginning. But everything gained momentum now that Steven and Wim have decided to take over the former De Metinas here on the corner. Marie and I talked about it for a long time and had a lot of doubts. Because taking over a café as a couple causes a major change in our lives. But we’re going for it. Steven and Wim did not want to leave the café to anyone.”
Klevis and Marie will take over the torch early next year. And after a small renovation of the toilets, they do not want to change much of the current concept. “We want to return to the café of the past where everyone is welcome. From the students who find the cheapest beers in Asse here to the local sports clubs and visitors to the Market. We also want to bring more life to our beautiful Market Square. We fully support events such as the Mother Hopland massacantus and hope that the municipal council will also make more efforts to make the Market more attractive with events such as De Met Duvelt. The more catering establishments there are on the Market, the better.”