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Is 24-Hour NDG Diner Serre Picasso Getting Resurrected?

Short answer, “yes”, with an “if”; long answer “no”, with a “but”

Serre Picasso’s now-derelict location on St-Jacques Street
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Much-loved over its 30 years in business, it has been eight years since NDG diner Serre Picasso closed its doors.

The greasy spoon opened up on St-Jacques in the late 70s, operating round the clock and serving breakfast at any time, before abruptly closing in February 2009, blaming a poor economy for the shutter. The eulogies poured out, not because Picasso was a luxuriant gastronomical offering (one highlight from blog Shoestring Montreal’s ode to Picasso: “their ‘Hollandaise’ sauce was definitely more cheesy than most”), but because it was an old reliable haunt, with sizable, comforting portions. The opening hours and delivery almost certainly helped, too.

But over the weekend, the Gazette reported that Picasso is being prepped for a second coming. Gazette reporter Isaac Olson appears to have buried the lede, focusing primarily on ex-customers’ memories of the diner rather than the titillating suggestion that it might come back to life.

To be fair, it’s not looking terribly likely that Picasso will be back in something resembling its previous form. The location is owned by Peter Sergakis, the Montreal bar magnate known more for owning strip clubs and other “sexy-themed” bars, as well as operations like the city’s sprawling Sports Stations, complete with odd beer sizes.

Sergakis has owned the building all along — his strip club Les Amazones is in fact housed in the same location — but for the last 14 years of its life it had little connection to Sergakis. A tenant operated the diner during that time, before being evicted for failing to pay rent.

Now the building is being re-done and prepared for business again. Here’s the catch: Sergakis told the Gazette that the restaurant business is particularly tough, saying Montreal is saturated with breakfast restaurants in particular. Sergakis won’t say what he’s planning for the space, but that doesn’t seem like a strong indication that the diner will return.

Its neighbour, Les Amazones, certainly isn’t going anywhere — Sergakis says it’ll keep operating since it’s a “quiet place with no problems.” So maybe Picasso will become an expanded strip club — or maybe a hybrid strip-club diner — or maybe something else completely.

But, also worth bearing in mind: Sergakis tried to re-boot the diner a year after it closed, and that never eventuated, so don’t set your hopes too high.