It served all manner of Montrealers for seven decades. The Eaton's Ninth Floor Restaurant (or Le 9e) has not been open the public, and has rarely been seen, since 1999. The restaurant's fate is in limbo — while a province of Quebec heritage landmark, the site, and the valuable Downtown property it resides in, is in the hands of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the asset management arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement, the province’s powerful pension-fund manager.
It was Lady Eaton herself, the wife of the owner of the Eaton's department stores, who christened the 9th floor on January 26, 1931. The restaurant was the crown jewel in the newly-revamped Goodwin building at 677 Saint Catherine Ouest, which Eaton's had purchased six years prior. A star architect was commissioned, at considerable cost, to design the department store and restaurant. Jacques Carlu was a Streamline Moderne pioneer and the man behind such projects as the Palais de Chaillot in Paris and the Eaton Auditorium in Toronto (now known as The Carlu and owned by prominent restaurant firm Oliver & Bonacini). Carlu's wife, Natacha, created the famous floor to ceiling mural at the back of the Ninth Floor Restaurant.
In an email to The Globe and Mail last year, Claude Sirois, co-chief operating officer at Ivanhoé Cambridge, wrote: "We recognize our collective responsibility to celebrate the history and heritage of the [Ninth Floor restaurant] but we also have a responsibility towards our investors. Several scenarios have been studied. We are still looking for an operating partner who shares our business objectives as well as its preservation."
For more on this bygone Montreal classic, check out the 1998 National Film Board of Canada documentary Les Dames du 9e.