After 47 years on Crescent Street, notable restaurant and bar Thursday’s has closed down, laying off about 100 staff with no notice.
A post in a Facebook group for restaurant workers in Montreal said that all staff were told on New Year’s Day that they should look for new jobs. The woman who made the post says she was a manager at the venue. While some commenters noted that Thursday’s had already announced that it would be closed from January 1 to 6, that manager said that staff were led to believe that there would be a one-week closure, after which they would resume work.
Calls to the restaurant went unanswered, and the restaurant has not replied to social media messages or emails, although its OpenTable listing is still accepting reservations.
TVA also reported the closure on Thursday afternoon, speaking with multiple employees who backed up the posts on Facebook. One employee said the closure was completely unexpected.
Another widely-shared social media post went into greater detail about the closure, criticizing the way owner Chris Ann Nakis handled it. The post’s author, Chloé Ratté, says she worked at Thursday’s for five years, and staff were notified that they had lost their jobs via a brief email sent from an iPhone — just hours after staff had been popping champagne for customers during the bar’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Ratté goes on to claim that after taking over the restaurant’s ownership about one year ago, Nakis had been mostly absent.
“Your handling of this situation was as pathetic as it was predictable...you treated this staple of the restaurant world like just another one of your businesses.”
Ratté also indicated that she would take the restaurant’s owners to Quebec’s labour board, the Normes du Travail.
However, reporting from the Gazette hints at a strong possibility that Thursday’s will reopen — the Ragueneau family, who founded the restaurant, are reportedly taking back ownership of the building, due to Nakis not being able to purchase the entire building “the way [she] had wanted to”. Of course, with all staff gone, it doesn’t seem that a smooth handover leading to an immediate reopening is on the cards.
Nakis took ownership of Thursday’s in late 2018, taking it over from the Ragueneau family, who had operated it for decades. Contacted by TVA, one of the restaurant’s founders said they were outraged by the way the new owners had treated employees, some of whom had worked at Thursday’s for 30 years (minus a hiatus when the restaurant closed and then reopened in 2012).
Nakis’ family also owns the adjacent Sir Winston Churchill complex on Crescent, at least two Baton Rouge restaurants, and co-owns famed deli Schwartz’s alongside singer Céline Dion and other partners.
While Nakis could not be contacted by Eater, TVA tracked her down on the restaurant’s premises.
“I have lots of employees everywhere in Montreal...I have a lot of sympathy and empathy for my employees.”
Nakis then cut off the reporter and walked away, tersely adding that employees could call her if they wanted help in finding new jobs.
Speaking to the Gazette, Nakis’ sympathy wasn’t exactly on show — she told the newspaper that “this is a restaurant, this is not an IBM”, when asked if staff should have been given more notice that they had lost their jobs.
Thursday’s first opened on Crescent in 1973, evolving into a large complex with a restaurant, bar, and club. It closed its doors in 2012 and was slated to be demolished for a new development. However, Bernard Ragueneau cut a deal with developers and his son Torrance reopened it in 2014.
While some were skeptical of the reboot — after all, by 2014, much of Crescent Street’s nightlife was considered rather stale — it drew glowing reviews from critics upon its return to the scene.