Quick Restaurants S.A.

Ten years ago (1995) found me falling in love with Quick Restaurants, the fast-food chain. It was my first time to Belgium and I had no idea there was a European competitor to McDonald's and Burger King. The burgers were good and french fries excellent. I remember thinking Quick might be the one to give McDonald's a run for the money.

However, in my 2005 return to Belgium I've eaten at Quick restaurants more than a half-dozen times and have been disappointed. No, the french fries are still excellent but the burgers aren't the same. There's a real noticeable difference in taste between the hamburger meat used by McDonalds and that used by Quick.

Quick, Europe's largest fast-food chain with over 400 restaurants in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, employs over 3,000 and has systemwide revenues of over 722 million euros. Headquarters lies about four miles from Antwerp in suburban Berchem.

The address I have brings me to an unexciting eight-story, concrete slab building named "Winterthur Center". The building looks like it was built in the early 1970's and Winterthur, an insurance company, sports their name in big letters atop the structure. Quick has their logo above the building's entrance. The building directory shows Quick occupying space on various floors including a training center. Checking in at the second floor reception I explain sending a letter of introduction a month ago to CEO Jean-Paul Brayer. Though this is the registered office of Quick Restaurants I'm told Brayer works out of Paris. Corporate Communications is here but the woman in charge is currently in Paris. Hmm, Quick was established in Belgium back in 1971 and it sounds like Paris has become the real head office but they're keeping a token Belgium office presence for appearances to appease the Belgians. It's suggested I return in a few days but from the what I've seen of the unexciting decor, I'm not missing much if I don't make it back. Due to my tight schedule I don't get a chance to return.

I eat lunch at nearby Quick restaurant (within walking distance of the office) and wonder if this is the site of one of the first stores.

Company website: www.quick-restaurants.com