The old Green Room (R.I.P.) holds a very special place for a lot of Montrealers. Blurry, drunken nights and sweaty dance floor sessions all literally blew up in smoke in 2010 after an electrical surge behind the jukebox caught the place on fire. Le Comme Chez Soi opened in the renovated space several months later but never quite filled that legendary neighbourhood void and closed after a Kickstarter campaign failed to save the business earlier this year.
It didn’t take long for entrepreneurial bar and restaurant owner Dave Schmidt and Dan Geltner, (the newly anointed executive chef at SuWu), to get a foot in the door and put together a team of collaborators to conceive of something totally different for the space. Some say third time’s the charm and hopefully that’s true for Maison Sociale.
Here's how Mile End's newest spot describes itself:
Maison Sociale, situated in the heart of the Mile End, is a Montreal gathering point open to all. Coffee by day and bar by night, we will be offering a quality experience around the clock. Maison Sociale incorporates a special membership concept that offers valuable benefits to those who sign up. Membership perks are specially curated to match the unique needs of each of our members. Maison Sociale also sports it's own radio room for open live broadcasting about relevant and cultured content in our city.There are a lot of partners involved in the new wave social club, of sorts. According to Geltner, it was a well thought-out strategy:
“We don’t want to just bring another bar to the Mile End.”
"It’s very much a passion project. We have a lot of partners and we have a lot of partners on purpose. We don’t want to just bring another bar to the Mile End. There’s tons of great ones by a lot of our friends and we love it, so we wanted to do something different and we knew if we were going to do that, we would have to bring in people from different areas."
Just how many partners are involved in Maison Sociale? Nine, including Gelner and Schmidt. The other seven are:
· Na'eem Adam–co-founder of Le Burger Week and La Poutine Week
· Philip Tabah–founder of themainmtl.com blog
· Christophe Beaudoin Vallières–who runs the bar program at Barroco
· Marc-Antoine Clément–who will do the interior wood work and who did Schmidt's Chinatown bar Le Mal Nécessaire
· Emerson Loustaul–in charge of all the web and digital content
· James Benjamin–a partner in Breakglass Studio, in charge of the radio (yes, radio) and music program
· Julien D'Aoust–operations manager, in charge of the day-to-day
Chantel Ness, co-founder of Fulhaus, a vintage, custom design brand, worked with Schmidt on the concept, inspired by director Wes Anderson's 2014 film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. They’ve kept the original Green Room bar but there are some interesting additions, most notably the radio booth, where they are planning to broadcast live podcasts on a regular basis.
The plan is to open all day and transition to a restaurant and cocktail bar at night. Maison Sociale will take over the coffee program from the now-defunct Café Sardine, with a small selection of morning snacks. A lot of the Sardine staff will shift to the new space as well. Good news: so will Sardine's famous doughnuts.
For lunch service, there will be a one-item menu, announced in advance online. Geltner wants to keep the lunch exciting, interesting and fast to cater to the lunchtime crowd in the area (Ubisoft's sprawling Mile End campus is across the street).
“We’re not going to be a French restaurant, we’re not going to be an Italian restaurant and we’re not going to be a Chinese restaurant.”
"We’re not going to be a French restaurant, we’re not going to be an Italian restaurant and we’re not going to be a Chinese restaurant. One day we might be serving Indian food and the next day we might be serving American food. We’re really going to play around and keep it fun for the chefs and the staff. At night, we’re still going to be doing specials, but we’ll have a few more dishes so that people can actually come, sit down, enjoy, take their time and have some cocktails and some nice food."
Although the space is still coming together, the Masion Sociale team is pretty confident that by early December, they’ll be fully operational. Here are a few photos of the work in progress (credit: Ron Jamieson).
Update: Dan Geltner and Julien D'Aoust are no longer involved in the project. Gil MacNutt from Maïs is on board as a partner.