Once-beloved Mile End bakery Boulangerie Clarke has had a rebirth of sorts — one of its main players has opened a café-sandwich spot, named Clarke Café, in Pointe-St-Charles.
Clarke was a landmark spot on St-Viateur Street for 35 years, until it closed in 2015, more or less due to rent increases (although the rumour that it would be replaced with a Starbucks never came to fruition).
Now, Frank Servedio, son of Clarke’s founders and face of the bakery in its later years, has given the Clarke name a triumphant return.
“It was always my intensions to relaunch something but it had to be in a place where the rent would work,” Servedio tells Eater — and that’s why the new business is in a whole new neighbourhood.
“I want to be a local sandwich shop whereI wouldn’t have to overcharge for a lunch, where everybody feels comfortable.”
Servedio says the new Clarke will be a similar experience, although with the notable addition of Italian-style coffee — he’s hoping to become the neighbourhood’s local Italian coffee-maker.
Similar Italian sandwiches to before will be on offer — the classic salami, turkey, and calabrese options are joined by new items like grilled chicken or porchetta sandwiches; some salads will also be served, including pasta salad options. While the new Clarke won’t be doing bread as the bakery did, it will still do pastries like cannolis and chocolatines.
While Servedio was very involved at the original Clarke, he says with his parents semi-retired,
“That was my parents’ thing and now it’s my turn to establish myself.”
The new Clarke has a prime location on Centre Street, taking over a former hair salon a stone’s throw from Charlevoix metro station. It’s had a full makeover, with wooden countertops and white tiling — Servedio says he doesn’t want it to look trendy, but rather timeless instead. It’ll also be more of a sit-down spot.
“The old Clarke was a bakery, it had that real deli feel, we didn’t do much from when we opened it so for renovations it stayed the same since day one...in this place it’s more of a coffee shop vibe.”
And while it’s a few kilometres from many of the customers who frequented the original Clarke, Servedio says they’re very much invited to come down and grab a big sandwich.
“I would love for [Mile Enders] to come down — I’ve had connections with so many people on St-Viateur, the guys from Café Olimpico have been really supportive, the guys from Pop Montreal, they keep checking in to see when I’m opening.”
STATUS — Clarke Café is open at 2483 Centre from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.