Hymie Sckolnick, the founder of iconic Mile End diner Beautys Luncheonette, has died aged 96.
The news broke on Twitter Monday afternoon from a restaurant customer, with news outlets including the Montreal Gazette now reporting it as fact.
For years, Sckolnick has been one of the most visible faces on Montreal’s dining scene, becoming nearly synonymous with the diner that bears his former bowling nickname. Over the decades, he became a true icon for his spirit, charm, longevity and his presence on at the popular breakfast and lunch spot on the corner of Mont-Royal and St-Urbain.
Hymie and his wife Freda Sckolnick took over the restaurant, then the Bancroft Snack Bar, in 1942. It was at first a fast lunch spot, with Freda’s cooking the main draw, until it proved so popular that it opened weekends, doing one of the city’s first brunches. Beautys also gave Montreal the Mish-Mash, a (now-trademarked) omelette of hot dog, salami, green peppers, and fried onion.
Sckolnick’s son Larry, and his children progressively took over the day-to-day operations of the diner. Yet well into his ‘90s and right up to the end, Sckolnick remained an enduring fixture at Beautys, greeting the restaurant regulars and keeping order in the often lengthy line-ups.
Sckolnick may have been an icon for Montrealers, but he caught the attention of many an outsider too: not least, famed American critic and food writer Alan Richman. After visiting in 2016, Richman wrote in Town & Country that Sckolnick should be immortalized.
“There should be a statue of Hymie Sckolnick erected...he’s unbelievable, the single best thing in Montreal — maybe even the world.”
Per the Gazette, Sckolnick died peacefully in his home on Monday, with his funeral to be held at Paperman & Sons on Jean Talon West tomorrow (November 29) at 11 a.m. His family has requested that donations go to a memorial fund in Sckolnick’s name at the Jewish General Hospital Foundation.
- Hyman Sckolnick [Paperman & Sons]
- Step Inside Beautys, a Montreal Breakfast Landmark [EMTL]
- Veteran writer Alan Richman says Montreal is No. 1 on the foodie front [Montreal Gazette]