Quebec-based Italian chain Pacini has made a hefty expansion into downtown Montreal, with a 330-seat restaurant just along from Place-des-Arts.
According to a press release, the chain threw down a not-insignificant $1.8 million to open its doors on de Maisonneuve, in the La Capital building between City Councillors and de Bleury.
Pacini is clearly aiming to make the new location an all-singing, all-dancing operation — beyond seating for hundreds, it’ll have two terrasses, a lounge section, and serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch on a daily basis.
The chain is making much of its new “urban” placement, calling it the “ideal location for urban professionals and families to savour delicious Italian dishes”, and even decorating in an “urban” style, which in practice, means a striped carpet, and some blown-up images of Italian streetscapes on the wall.
Corresponding to that urban fixation, it’s Pacini’s first attempt to open in the downtown core of a major city (excluding the nearby location on St-Denis, depending on how one defines “downtown Montreal”). The company has 30 restaurants (mostly in Quebec, with three in Alberta), and has stuck pretty heavily to suburban locations.
These are often adjacent to malls or strip malls — Terrebonne, Brossard, St-Jérôme, Vaudreuil, and Laval are just a few locations on that list. That approach spells out why opening such a large restaurant right downtown seems like a bit of a gamble — the area is reasonably well-served by numerous other reputable restaurants, spanning from fast lunch spots to fine dining tables.
Meanwhile, Pacini’s approach seems to be casting a wildly wide net — one that aims to appeal to everybody, but could end up appealing to none (this could explain Pacini’s three-star average on platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor). The menu is long, spanning from pizza to 14 pastas (including the perplexing duck confit-truffle lasagne), many of which play the Italian approach pretty loosely — from riffs like “parmigiana fries” to straight-up non-Italian items like a Caesar salad. By looking nice and having a long menu, it will certainly be able to siphon some of the plentiful tourists from the area throughout the busy festival season — but to the tune of 330 customers at once? That seems like a tall order.
Yet, other similarly family-ish chain restaurants like Madison’s and Baton Rouge have made downtown Montreal work for them, so it’s not impossible. Best of luck with your plus-sized dining room serving “parmigiana wings” and “cream soup of the day”!
STATUS — Pacini is open at 425 de Maisonneuve W from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays (midnight Friday), 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.