MILE END — After over a half-century in business, Park Avenue Greek bakery-cafe Navarino is closing this Saturday (December 17). Founded by the Tsatoumas family in 1962, it evolved into a hub for Mile Enders as it morphed into a sit-down cafe later on, loved by some for its spanakopita and others for its cookies. Quarterly magazine Maisonneuve published an essay a few years back that evocatively describes the bakery's clientele and its place in the neighbourhood. Music festival Pop Montreal, whose offices are almost next door, also had a message of appreciation for Navarino. It had been rumoured that nearby Café Olimpico were going to open up in the building, however, Olimpico tell Eater that they are not involved with any new project here.
PETITE-PATRIE — Brïz, the Mediterranean-and-mezze restaurant from a host of Kitchen Galerie folk, plus chef Fabrizia Rollo (known for both her work at Kitchen Galerie and on Radio-Canada's Les Chefs), is set to close before Christmas. Since opening up in 2015 near the Jean-Talon Market, it netted solid reviews, and the restaurant's farewell message is pretty unambiguous that this crew will surface elsewhere in the Montreal restaurant scene in future. Brïz is wrapping up its run with a set menu and cocktail party next Friday, December 23.
ST-HENRI — First Socialito in the Mile End, now this: Montreal may have indeed hit peak taco, as the St-Henri location of Burrito Revolución has closed. As Eater noted when it opened just eight months ago, there was already ample competition for fast-ish casual eateries on that stretch of Notre-Dame, possibly explaining the demise. The east side location of Burrito Revolución on Ontario is still operating, though.
ST-HENRI — Brunchy neighbourhood spot Café Rose de Lima on Notre-Dame has closed down, with hints from the owner online that copious construction on Notre-Dame Street was a factor. He and other locals are reportedly in discussions to keep the cafe's lease active and possibly transform it into some type of cooperative space.
OLD MONTREAL — The city may have also hit peak-high-end-comfort-food. Gourmet burger restaurant 155 Fahrenheit has quietly closed its doors without much fanfare. Before their March opening, they said they had wanted to be a "neighbourhood eatery" in what's a pretty heavily touristed zone.
OLD MONTREAL — Part-restaurant, part-bar with DJs and the kind of people who go out in the Old Port, L'Appartement appears to have permanently closed down — although signage on their door suggests they might not be gone forever, the phone just keeps on ringing — even during their opening hours.
PLATEAU — OK, it seriously hasn't been a great month in the "restaurant versus fire" arena in this city. In an almost identical situation to last week's Chinatown fire which destroyed Café Bonita, an abandoned building on Parc Avenue near Milton Street caught fire last Wednesday, taking out McGill student hotspot for pitas and poutines, Alto. While Alto's building wasn't destroyed, the damage was severe enough that it's closed indefinitely, which has drawn heartfelt tributes on social media, including the poem below. As Global News reports, some lovely McGill students are raising money for Alto (but let's hope they have insurance to cover it, too).
BAIE D'URFÉ — In even more fire news, West Island Italian spot Linguini burnt to the ground over the weekend. A fire broke out early Sunday morning in the Baie d'Urfé restaurant known for its woodfired pizza, a bunch of firefighters attended, and it was torn down during the day on Sunday. The arson squad are investigating this one. With a grand total of five restaurants closed by fires in just over two weeks, what have we learned here? That restaurateurs should definitely invest in insurance.
LITTLE ITALY — After almost a half-century in business, Little Italy's Cafe International has closed down to make way for Snowbird Tiki Bar next year. One of the peak Italian spots on an already very Italian strip, Cafe International was opened in 1968. A Facebook post indicated that they would close in December, but that post (and their entire social media presence) is now gone, and restaurant staff confirmed to Eater that it has already closed its doors forever.
POINTE-ST-CHARLES — In a very visible display of gentrification, the slightly divey, once-visited-by-Anthony-Bourdain restaurant and bar Capri is set to close its doors later this month, reportedly to make way for a condo development — little surprise, given its canal-adjacent location. You can still drop by their famous hockey nights until later in December, featuring former Habs forward Yvon Lambert, and lots of very cheap beer.
CHINATOWN — Not a good week for the hospitality industry in terms of fires: a fire in the Robillard Building on St-Laurent Boulevard meant that the historical building had to be torn down — along with Café Bonita, the brand new Cuban cafe in a neighbouring building on Viger Avenue. Bonita was opened just two months ago by Rafael Hernandez and Geoffrey Moreau of nearby taqueria La Capital, along with designer Karina Kwong. Now, it's closed permanently, or at least until the owners find a new location and set up shop again. One of the cafe's staff was also spotted posting to Facebook that she was out of a job. The inferno broke out Thursday morning, with the main building being demolished Friday morning, followed by the neighbouring building with Bonita on ground level. Bonita's Facebook updates are particularly heartbreaking.
WESTMOUNT — If you booked at either of Antonio Park's Westmount restaurants (Park and Lavanderia) up until the end of the month, you'd better reschedule. After last week's fire in the Victoria Avenue building caused $100,000 damage, both are closed for at least a couple more weeks, along with Park's gourmet market Sous Chef. Park tells Eater that construction crews from Reliance are working exceptionally fast and he is aiming to reopen in two weeks, but Park will be ready before Lavanderia, which suffered more damage. Park continues to be a great guy, and assures Eater that his restaurant staff are being supported throughout their forced leave, referring to them as "his family".
Day 5 after the fire: We are working hard to get Park, Lavanderia, and Sous Chef up and running as soon as possible. This has been one of the hardest times of my life as these restaurants are my babies, and my team is my family. Thank you to the team, family, and everyone who is working hard, and sending love and support. I love you all and can't wait to post the reopening date soon! @parkresto @lavanderiaresto @marchesouschef #staystrong #parkrestaurant #lavanderiaresto #willbebackstronger
DOWNTOWN — The saga of build-your-own burger restaurant M:brgr on Drummond Street downtown is finally, definitively over. The owners have confirmed via social media that M:brgr is permanently done, almost three months after closing their doors. Reports that the restaurant had gone bankrupt clashed with a notice on their door saying they were closed for renovations. Along with its also-defunct Toronto location, that means M:brgr is two for two on the unceremonious closure front.
WESTMOUNT — A fire that broke out in Antonio Park's restaurant Lavanderia caused major damage to both that restaurant and neighbouring Park, closing them temporarily. Full details can be found in Eater's coverage here.
MILE END — To paraphrase the words of Eater tipster David, have we hit peak taco? That could be the case as St-Viateur Street taqueria Socialito declared bankruptcy in recent days. The Mexican restaurant from designer Agostino de Riggi (previously involved in various capacities with Nolano Pizzeria and Les 400 Coups, among others) didn't last six months, and the bankruptcy notices were spotted this weekend. That stretch of St-Viateur has proven tricky for eateries looking to get a foothold — in recent times, Colombian restaurant Gracias Corazon, cheese-steakery Les Phillies and an outlet of ever-pricey vegan spot Crudessence have all come and gone from the vicinity.
GRIFFINTOWN — The rapid transformation of Notre-Dame Street, or Restaurant Alley, continues as French bistro Duo D has shuttered. Known for straight-up classics (steak-frites, tartare, onion soup), Duo D was actually among the city's top TripAdvisor restaurants with copious positive reviews, but flew under the food scene radar in some respects — drawing no recent critic visits at all. That means it's gone, and it's reportedly getting transformed into a Rockaberry pie store.
HUDSON — The much-loved Hudson landmark Willow Inn plates its final meals tonight. The resto-pub-hotel located in a former trading post has been in business west of Montreal for over 40 years, serving rustic meals with distinctly country vibes — and as Global News reports, it has built up ample goodwill in the Hudson community. The owner is retiring, and has put the hotel on the market. Despite some swirling rumours about established restaurant folk purchasing the lakeside venue, there are no takers so far.
SAINT-BRUNO-DE-MONTARVILLE — Ominous news for celebrity-ish chef Jérôme Ferrer's Montreal-based chain of fancy casse-croutes: the St-Bruno-de-Montarville location, a short distance off the island, has already failed. It barely lasted three months, which can hardly be comforting news for Ferrer's team, who are hoping to have a total of eight Jerry Ferrer Casse-Croûte du Terroir locations and two food trucks around Montreal, including another two downtown. You can still get your fix of lobster poutine and surf 'n' turf burger at one of the other four open locations. The chain tells Eater that they decided to close St-Bruno for unspecified "business reasons", but they remain on good terms with the restaurant's franchisee. The existence of the St-Bruno location has also been scrubbed from their website.
DOWNTOWN — There's one fewer place to get a decent burrito downtown as Jimmy Guaco on Peel Street, near the Windsor Hotel, has reportedly closed and stripped out all its fittings. It was one of four stores for the Ontario micro-chain, and the only one in Quebec, and also one of the better pseudo-Mexican spots in the city — relatively speaking, we all know Montreal isn't a burrito town.
DOWNTOWN — Staying on Peel, there's now one less Harvey's downtown, formerly the only fast food chain in Canada with a reliable veggie burger.
SHAUGHNESSY VILLAGE — One of the city's favourite pad thais will be no longer, at least for the time being. Cuisine Bangkok, popular amongst Concordia University students and general downtowners, announced on Facebook it will plate up its final noodles and curries this Sunday (October 16). Bangkok's host organism, the Faubourg Sainte-Catherine food court has been in a state of decline for several years now. Local journalist Taylor Noakes has an article that details the fall from grace of what was probably the city's only decent food court — perhaps unbelievably, the Faubourg even had an outpost of Grumman '78 just a few years ago. The food court is reportedly set to close, too. Bangkok tell Eater they plan to reopen eventually, but no location or date has been set.
DOWNTOWN — One of the city's very few eateries with pastilla (Moroccan meat pies) on the menu has apparently closed. Eater tipster Neil reports that pita and pastilleria Awawa, which opened last winter on Drummond Street after bombarding green line metro stations with advertising, is papered over. Eater hasn't been able to get in contact with Awawa to confirm. Their phone number is no longer operating, though, and that's a pretty damning sign.
PLATEAU — French restaurant and brunch hit Cirkus earned rave reviews in 2015, but it has closed its doors extraordinarily quietly, with nary a peep on social media. Cirkus was the product of Julien Joré (formerly of very fancy, very exclusive private club 357C) and his partner, owner of the very hot patisserie Rhubarbe Stéphanie Labelle, and it was chronically under-appreciated, with the city's reviewers ignoring the Laurier Street restaurant for half a year after its opening. The good news is that Cirkus reportedly did not go bankrupt and there is some sort of to-be-determined project in the works from the team. The premises are apparently set to become another outlet of oh-so-popular pizzeria No 900.
GRIFFINTOWN — Also an eminently capable spot that appears to have run into some bad luck was Café Lucci on Griffintown. It moved into condo territory on William Street about a year ago but has filed for bankruptcy. A co-owner tells Eater that despite the residential developments in the area, there just wasn't enough foot traffic to keep the cafe going: "so much love and hard work was put into it. We built that from the ground up, but sadly deep pockets are needed to ride the slow times and the development of the area."
PLATEAU — Mont-Royal Avenue ramen spot Saka-Ba! has shut down operations, confirms a publicist who worked with the izakaya, who did not provide an explanation. Their formerly active Facebook page has been dead silent since June, with no mention of the closure.
Saka-Ba! is yet another 2014 restaurant opening to close its doors recently — it seems that two years is the time limit for eateries in Montreal who don’t manage to find their footing. With chef Junichi Ikematsu of Juni fame behind the menu, as well as cheapish beer and big bowls of pork or lobster broth-soaked noodles, Saka-Ba! received generally positive reviews, albeit peppered with some criticism for being a westernized approach to ramen — hardly a unique issue in Japanese restaurants in Montreal. That debate is moot now; authenticity doesn’t really matter when you’re (figuratively) six feet under.
UPDATE — A spokesperson for Saka-Ba! writes that the closure was a "business decision" but that there are new projects in the works, saying there's "good news" in the future for Ikematsu's team.
DOWNTOWN — So you like ordering Sri Lankan food at 1 a.m. on a Friday? Unlucky for you, as Thavas Curry Box on Bishop Street is now defunct. Displaying a fondness for capital letters, Thavas touted special family recipes, and while it never managed to lure critics from the major newspapers it was well-reviewed by denizens of the internet, who raved about their dosas and roti.
GRIFFINTOWN — An Eater tipster says that the Notre-Dame location of Haitian restaurant La Bonne Bouffe Creole appears to be abandoned, even after the location underwent months of renovations for it to open. The original Hochelaga-Maisonneuve location of that classic Creole restaurant on Sainte-Catherine East appears to be still going strong.
DOWNTOWN — Just as short-lived was Rapido Espresso’s attempt to bring third-wave coffee to Shaughnessy Village. This teeny-tiny hole in the wall on Sainte-Catherine at Saint-Marc didn’t survive its first year, quietly shutting its doors in recent months. It has since been converted into a felafel vendor.
LITTLE BURGUNDY — Reputed Montreal sushi chef Shinji Nagai’s eponymous Little Burgundy combination restaurant and bar announced it will be closing its doors immediately on Facebook this morning.
Eater reached out to Le Shinji for reasons behind the closure but has not heard back. It’s likely not an issue of quality: the Notre-Dame Street venue received glowing reviews after it opened in 2014, with La Presse labelling it "the best sushi in Montreal". Your very own Eater even awarded Shinji (the person, not the restaurant) Chef of the Year after its opening.
Given the melancholy tone of the announcement, it doesn’t seem like the closure was something the Shinji team anticipated — whatever the reason, it will leave a hole in Montreal’s already fairly sparse Japanese dining scene.
OLD MONTREAL — McGill Street’ Commerce — or Bar Commerce, or CommerceGB, or Commerce Gastrobar, depending on who you ask — has quietly shut its doors after only two years. They’ve meticulously scrubbed their existence from social media and their still-active website makes no mention of the closure — and although Commerce might have faded away discreetly on the outside, it would appear there was ample drama behind the scenes.
A spokesperson for the normes du travail, the Quebec government commission for ensuring workers’ rights and safety, tells Eater that there are five pending complaints against Commerce from employees attempting to recoup their pay. The restaurant also shed many of its key staff over time: chef Adam Zaitouni only stuck around for a few months after opening, and was followed out the door by two partners, TV host-turned-restaurateur Benoît Gagnon and Martin Juneau, the chef behind Pastaga.
That left just Jorge Da Silva Jr. of Old Port restaurant group MTL Cuisine in charge. MTL Cuisine’s restaurants and the Da Silvas in particular have previously been criticized for generating complaints to the normes du travail for issues with their staff.