The owners of Montreal restaurants Joe Beef and Maison Publique are planning a luncheonette adjacent to the Lachine Canal in Montreal’s Sud-Ouest.
McKiernan Luncheonette is new territory for both parties — it’s a new neighbourhood: Côte-St-Paul, just past the west end of St-Henri. It’ll be more of a daytime spot — another novelty, given that Joe Beef and company have never really served lunch, while Derek Dammann’s Plateau restaurant Maison Publique has only done brunch.
On top of that, Joe Beef owner Dave McMillan suggests that the aim isn’t to be a destination restaurant — rather, it’s to cover the food needs of the various businesses in the St-Patrick Street loft building where McKiernan will open.
“It was very difficult to get a cup of coffee let alone a sandwich or a salad [around there] — so the deal is for us to service the building,” he says.
When the opportunity for McKiernan came along, McMillan says it was easy to decide to pair up with Dammann, given the meaty, oh-so-Canadian leanings of both chefs’ culinary styles.
“We get along famously, we cook similar styles of food, it’s just a logical thing.”
It’s early days yet in terms of details, but McMillan says it’ll be lunch-friendly fare — sandwiches, salads, and rotisserie will also likely be offered, with the latter being billed as a focal point online. It won’t just be a lunch spot, though — with 5,000 square feet, the space will be used for catering and events. The existing Maison Publique and Joe Beef spaces don’t lend themselves to large groups — and restaurants like Vin Papillon and newcomer Mon Lapin can even be tricky for any groups, given their no-reservations policies.
“I just hate catering when you have to rent all the equipment and do it off site, so this space where we have a full kitchen and the space is dynamic and you can transform it,” says McMillan.
Without going into detail, McMillan also says the space will be open to “a larger scope of programming and catering”, and will potentially be available for other restaurateurs to use.
The space itself faces the canal, and when construction on the nearby Turcot Interchange are done, will have a view of the Westmount end of Mount Royal. A terrasse is also in the works.
While McMillan is a co-owner, it won’t be his project on the ground, nor will other Joe Beef owners Fred Morin and Alison Cunningham have heavy involvement — it’s being guided by the younger generation, with Liverpool House maître d’hôtel Chris Morgan and sommelier James Simpkins at the helm on the Joe Beef side, alongside Joe Beef chef Derek Reinhardt on the kitchen side, all together with Dammann.
For those with a sense of Joe Beef’s history, the name should be familiar — McKiernan’s is the name of a lunch spot that used to exist on Notre-Dame West before Joe Beef expanded, swallowing up that space. That restaurant was named for Charles McKiernan, the Irish immigrant and tavern owner better known as “Joe Beef”.
There’s no opening date yet — stay tuned for more details in the coming months.