Belgian Village Inn in Moline: Home of the Giant Reuben Sandwich
Moline’s Belgian Village Inn serves quite possibly the biggest reuben sandwich you’ve ever seen.
“It’s 10 or 12 inches long and about six inches wide – it fills a whole plate,” says Shawn Manning, who owns the Belgian Village Inn with his wife, Karen. “The reuben is by far our best seller and our biggest sandwich.”
So distinct is the restaurant’s trademark sandwich, its name is a registered trademark: the VandeRueben. It’s one of the Belgian Village Inn’s many homemade sandwiches served on bread baked fresh on the premises.
“We bake between 70 and 200 loaves of bread every day in three varieties – mild rye, raisin and wheat – and we sell them by the loaf and slice them for our sandwiches,” Manning says. “Everything we serve is made from scratch, including our soups, coleslaw, potato salad, salad dressings and desserts.”[infobox alignment=”right” title=”If You Go”] Hours: Open Thursdays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Location: 560 17th Ave. in Moline
Order online at belgianvillagetogo.com. [/infobox]
Opened in 1977 by Karen’s Belgian parents, Loretta and Denis Ceurvorst, the Belgian Village Inn has become a landmark dining destination on 17th Avenue. The Mannings bought it from the Ceurvorsts in 1997, though the original owners continue to work there part-time.
“They followed their American dream to open a restaurant and tavern,” Manning says of his in-laws. “This area had a large population of Belgian immigrants at one time. The first restaurant took off so quickly, we had to open a second location three blocks away.”
Customers love the Belgian Village Inn for its oversized portions and Old World charm. Then there’s the coconut cream pie, topped with real meringue, though Manning admits few customers order dessert because they are so full from eating such a big entrée.
In addition to the VandeRueben, popular sandwiches include the Belgian club, a turkey and bacon club with Swiss cheese, and the VandeRaisin, a ham and swiss sandwich served on fresh raisin bread. Soups include clam chowder (a staple on Fridays and Saturdays), ham and beans, cream of spinach, chicken noodle, broccoli potato and vegetable beef.
“We love what we do because we’re carrying on a family tradition,” Manning says. “So many restaurants don’t do well with second-generation owners. But we love our customers, and we’re keeping it rolling.”