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Crudessence is Closing Restaurants to Focus on Grocery Stores

The vegan chain pivots

Crudessence’s Rachel Street location

Raw vegan chain Crudessence is shrinking its restaurant operations and possibly eliminating them altogether, in favour of prêt-à-manger counters in health-oriented grocery stores.

Most of Crudessence’s brick-and-mortar locations have closed down recently — its seven-year-old Mackay Street location in downtown Montreal shuttered in July, and its one Quebec City restaurant went out of business some time before that. (A Mile End location closed well over a year ago.)

The chain’s owner, Dominic Bujold tells Eater that the one remaining location, on Rachel in the Plateau, would likely close after the summer, after nine years in business. He said that while that location was a success in summer months, due to its proximity to Jeanne-Mance Park, its business dropped heavily in colder months. Bujold said a move to a better year-round location is likely — on Friday, La Presse confirmed that the Rachel location will soon close.

According to Bujold, it’s not the end of Crudessence — while the restaurants are vanishing, the chain has turned its attention to grocery stores. Crudessence has opened six counters in grocery store Avril, which serve Crudessence’s menu in ready-to-eat formats

Avril is a Quebec-based chain of health-oriented supermarkets. It hasn’t yet set up shop in Montreal proper, although two of its seven locations aren’t far away (Brossard and Longueuil).

Bujold said the economics of the grocery store counters are a lot better.

“You don’t have to pay rent, more customers are exposed [to the brand], it’s run by Avril staff, and we give them the recipes and expertise.”

But there’s not much room to grow — six Avril stores already have Crudessence counters, according to Bujold, and there are only seven Avrils in existence. Bujold said that Crudessence is scouting other opportunities for similar counters, though — that could include setting up shop in university or CEGEP cafeterias.

In any case, Bujold isn’t getting out of the vegan dining business: another of his restaurants, vegan-vegetarian bistro LOV, is soon to add a third location (in Laval), just nine months after the original Old Montreal restaurant.