Just in time for the Habs’ home opener against the Chicago at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, the hockey team has opened the biggest restaurant in the country, almost right next to the arena.
As previously reported, the restaurant is the largest in the country by capacity, squeezing over 1,000 people into a space spread across three levels. It’s a double-down feat of Habs branding, too: the restaurant is inside the Canadiens’ very own 50-level condo tower, the Tour des Canadiens.
The restaurant’s vibe is perhaps best described as the opposite of “low-key”: the official opening announcement highlights a 46-foot screen that will beam Habs games into the eatery, along with some 60-plus televisions throughout the space, along with DJs playing much of the time when no game is happening.
Obviously, there’s plenty of corporate money behind such a project: Geoff Molson, the team owner and general business magnate, has talked up the new establishment in the past, and hospitality giant Cara Operations is running the show. Cara is known for mid-level to fast food chains like Swiss Chalet and Montana’s. Cara is already well-versed in catering to the hockey crowd, as the company owns a Bier Markt pretty much across the street from the Bell Centre. One would think that opening such a huge hockey-dedicated space in the area might cannibalize Cara’s crowd at Bier Markt, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of people looking for beer and burgers around the Bell Centre on match days.
1909’s menu is a little more upmarket than many other Cara establishments — it’s squarely in “fancy comfort food” territory, with burgers, steaks, tartares, and such. Some menu items seem to be leaning in on items that connote a sense of “yes, we are a gourmet restaurant with truffles and heirloom tomatoes”. It’s too early to make any pronouncements on the actual food quality, but 1909 did have the good sense to tap a chef with experience in kitchens at two Montreal icons, Toqué and Au Pied de Cochon, Jean-Sébastien Giguère.
This isn’t the first Habs-branded restaurant to crop up, although it’s easily the most significant — Montreal’s Trudeau Airport contains Avenue des Canadiens, a much smaller spot decked out with Canadiens logos and such. There’s also a second 1909 in the works — it will be adjacent to Place Bell in Laval, the home arena for new American Hockey League (AHL) team Laval Rocket. That restaurant (which won’t be quite as huge as the Bell Centre version) is set to open later in the fall.
If the restaurant, from its cornucopia of TV screens to its corporate overlords, all sounds like too much, be soothed by this hypnotizing video of Habs mascot/orange being Youppi gyrating in the name of 1909 Taverne Moderne.
Youppi!!! Notre entrée se trouve juste derrière et elle sera bientôt ouverte! Our entrance is right behind #Youppi and it will shortly be accessible!Posted by 1909 Taverne moderne - MTL on Friday, September 29, 2017
STATUS — 1909 Taverne Moderne is open at 1280 Canadiens-de-Montréal Avenue from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. daily (until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights).