Not content with just being a sports team and real estate company, Montreal’s NHL team, the Canadiens (the Habs, to locals), is opening two restaurants this fall — one of which is set to be the largest in Canada, with a capacity of over 1,000. The team announced the news via the NHL website this week.
Both will be dubbed 1909 Taverne Moderne, with one located next to the Habs’ home arena, the Bell Centre, and another north of the city, at Laval’s Place Bell, home to new American Hockey League (AHL) team Laval Rocket.
The Bell Centre location will be the big one, with three levels of restaurant. It’ll be in the 50-level condominium tower, the Tour des Canadiens. That means an entirely Canadiens-branded life is one step closer to being a true possibility for hockey fanatics who want to live, eat, and drink their favourite hockey team. It’ll also have 65 high-definition TVs and DJs seven nights a week, making ignoring one’s dining companions in favour of hockey and/or beats a very easy task.
The venue are to be part-owner and run by Cara Operations, a corporate entity that owns a mix of mid-level and fast food chains. Those include chicken restaurant Swiss Chalet, burger spot Harvey’s, barbecue restaurant Montana’s, and beer bar Bier Markt. In Quebec, the company was in the news last year for taking over roast chicken chain St-Hubert, stoking fears that the outlet’s, uh, “famed” sauce would fall victim to corporate meddling.
As a chain-wielding corporate behemoth, Cara isn’t the first name to come to mind when one is looking for a fine dining experience — plus, the restaurant’s culinary approach is described fairly generically: it’ll be “locally-sourced international cuisine”. That phrase is used heavily on the restaurant’s new Instagram account, too.
Notre équipe de Chefs passionnés vous concoctent un menu d'inspiration internationale aux saveurs locales; nous avons hâte de vous faire découvrir nos succulents plats. On se voit au mois d'octobre! Our passionate Chefs are creating a locally-sourced international menu; we can't wait to reveal our amazing dishes. See you in October!
That said, they have ex-Toqué chef and ex-Au Pied de Cochon chef Jean-Sébastien Giguère on board, so there’s some culinary clout in on the operation. But with those 65 televisions in the mix, perhaps don’t expect Maison Boulud — Canadiens co-owner, CEO and president Geoff Molson says it has two purposes: “our goal is to give fans a space where they won't have to choose between having a great meal and watching their favorite event in an electric atmosphere.”
These aren’t the first restaurants to be owned by Molson and the team: in 2016, the hockey-heavy Avenue des Canadiens opened at Montreal’s Trudeau airport.
The downtown Montreal 1909 Taverne Moderne is expected to be open in time for the Habs’ first home game (October 10), with the Laval location arriving later in the fall.