When Joe Beef opened in 2005 in Little Burgundy, a largely disregarded neighbourhood, the stretch of Notre-Dame Ouest between Vinet and Charlevoix was hardly a hive of activity. There was Dilallo Burger, Lili & Oli, Bonnys, a dormant Corona Theatre, some antique shops, and not much else. A decade later the block is one of Montreal's busiest—choked with restaurants and cafés on both sides. There's a Starbucks now. And, soon, another branch of this homegrown chain. The rush to exploit the apparent upturn has spread fast, from de Courcelle in Saint-Henri to de la Montagne in Griffintown. Disproportionately, this is where new restaurants open in Montreal.
Now one of the last holdouts is about to flip. Harvey Antiques (2518 Notre-Dame Ouest), open since 2000 on the corner of Charlevoix and Notre-Dame Ouest, will make way for a new restaurant—a wine bar allegedly—from serial restaurateur Francis Dumais and Geneviève Guertin (Pizzeria Geppetto, Le Bon Vivant). Dumais and Guertin were recently tangled in a long, ugly legal battle with Rouge FM DJ Ricky Dee (Richard Drouin) over Limon restaurant down the block (which may soon cede to a new L'Gros Luxe). Antique dealer Yvon Harvey, now keen to enjoy retirement, is not so quick to credit the block's metamorphosis to one restaurant: "There are restaurants everywhere here now but it's not just because of Joe Beef. I think a lot of it has to do with the city's development of the canal. Before it was all fields behind my store. Now it's all condos."