The sudden death of prolific Montreal restaurateur Pierre Roy this past July, at the age of 60, has led to the closure of L'Atelier. The Mile End BYOW restaurant, open for over a decade, was ostensibly in good hands when it recently made a gastropub pivot with chef Cedric Nolet and pastry chef Birgit Devroye. Devroye divulges, however, that after Roy's death this summer, the couple, and the rest of L'Atelier's staff, were left unpaid, and in limbo. "The day after his death we all noticed all our last cheques bounced." Nolet and Devroye subsequently took jobs at Auberge du Mange Grenouille in Bic, but will soon return to Montreal, after that restaurant's season ends, to look for new kitchen employment.
Pierre Roy's restaurant empire was extensive; Voir reported in a profile of Roy this past April that the businessman had opened, or taken control of, a dozen restaurants in Montreal over 20 years. These included the likes of L’Entrepont, Les Infidèles, Ô Thym, Tablée Vin, Guacamole y Tequila, Baron Samedi, as well as L'Atelier.
Worse, the Saint-Laurent boulevard restaurant was touched by another tragedy on August 20 when 37-year-old manager Alexandra Tache was killed in a car accident. "It was one of those freak car accidents," recalls Devroye. "It was in the news—a pedestrian hit on Saint-Denis at 1:30 a.m. She was so happy, with a new boyfriend, new projects. I still cry for her and talk to Alexandra's father in France sometimes. Anyway, it was not an easy summer. Voilà."
An 'À Louer' sign now hangs in L'Atelier's window. Devroye reports that the fate of the restaurant rests with Roy's son.