Montreal's L'Gros Luxe chain is about to expand, again. The original L’Gros Luxe, located in Plateau-Mont-Royal, will move this May to 451 Duluth Est, in the short-lived Le Billot pub. In a statement, the company announced that the "beautiful new space will have abundant natural light, more comfy booths, and, of course, a bar." The new restaurant has 110 seats, with a large 60-seat terrasse in the back.
Meanwhile, the original L'Gros Luxe on Saint-André and Roy is on the verge of a vegetarian makeover. Owner Alex Bastide, himself vegetarian, "has dreamed of owning a 100% vegetarian establishment" for a long time. The reboot will include a full meatless menu, with vegan and gluten-free options. L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé will be open seven nights a week from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and weekends for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Few homegrown chains have risen faster in recent years than L'Gros Luxe. The company operates four restaurants (soon to be five) in the Montreal area, and one in Quebec City. Bastide, who got his start with the Underworld skate shops, even speculated last fall about a move to New York. "The American market is more interesting," Bastide told La Presse. "We pay less in taxes, and the waitstaff salaries aren't as high. You're a winner even if rents are more expensive." The entrepreneur also mused about why L'Gros Luxe has managed to succeed in a tough, competitive market: "I feel sorry for a lot of people. I see restaurants open and close quickly, I see people who are investing fortunes. But the problem in this business, is that it's chefs who often open restaurants. They're passionate, but don't know how to get people to their restaurant, how to decorate, do marketing, and choose a good location." Fans of chef-driven restaurants may disagree, but there's no doubt that L'Gros Luxe, with its outrageously garnished Bloody Caesars, and comfort food value menus, has resonated with a segment of Montreal's diners. Now vegetarians are about to get a L'Gros Luxe of their own.