Montreal is set to welcome another “gastronomic” food hall to the downtown core, with a food court with 40 vendors currently being planned for the Carré Saint-Laurent development, which will be next to Place-des-Arts.
According to La Presse, the hall will be located at Sainte-Catherine and Clark streets, with a 22,000 square foot space on the ground floor of an eight-level building currently under construction there. It’s named Le Central, but has been referred to as Les Halles Saint-Laurent in some places, including the image above.
The building is the work of the Société de Développement Angus, known for the large-scale Technopole Angus project around Rachel and Molson streets in Rosemont. The new Place-des-Arts adjacent building will also house the new Centre d’Histoire de Montréal and office space for hundreds of Quebec government workers on its upper levels.
Culture and entertainment firm La Tribu will oversee the food hall, with well-known chef Danny St-Pierre acting as the company’s culinary director. As with two other recently announced food hall projects, St-Pierre invoked two words to describe the types of vendors he wants in Le Central: “local talent”.
The hall won’t open until summer 2019, so vendors are still to be determined, but speaking to La Presse, St-Pierre named New York’s Chelsea Market as an inspiration, making it clear that he doesn’t want the offerings to be standard, deep-fried food court junk, stating that chains won’t be in Le Central. Saying that he’s talking to a number of local restaurateurs and chefs, St-Pierre suggested that Chinese soups, Portuguese chicken, smoked meat, Japanese and Indian options are all likely.
Out of about 40 places for vendors, at least 25 will go to restaurant stands, with a few set aside for artisanal producers to sell their wares in a more take-home fashion.
This kind of higher-end but still fast-casual food hall has been a notable trend, with new versions of them touting gourmet meals appearing in numerous North American cities over the last two or three years. Montreal has been a little slower to catch on — except for a small and totally in-house hall at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, none have opened yet.
However, Le Central is now one of three big food halls in development, all of which should open in the second half of 2019. Culture magazine Time Out is opening a hall in the Eaton Centre, modelled after a successful project in Lisbon, Portugal, that placed numerous local chefs’ businesses under one roof. Then there’s Le Cathcart, a slightly smaller hall planned for Place Ville-Marie. Local firm A5 Hospitality (Kampai Garden, Jatoba, Mayfair) are planning that, in conjunction with Sid Lee Architecture.
Is there room for three fairly large food hall developments? It’s tough to say, but Le Central is at least well-placed to succeed: its location has extremely high foot traffic in the touristy summer months, and with new condo developments and existing office towers like the Guy-Favreau Complex right nearby, there could be enough people around to sustain it through the winters.