Long-standing Rosemont institution Bar Chez Roger reopened its doors last week, after announcing in mid-April that it would be permanently closed.
Loïc Gauthier, owner of the neighbouring bistro of the same name, has taken over the lease with his partner Maxime Lalonde, purchasing the bar from Normand Guérin, who had run it for the last 20 years. Gauthier had acquired Bistro Chez Roger from Guérin in 2014, after having worked for him as a chef.
While restaurants and bars across the city are buckling under the strain of the pandemic, Guérin had blamed the closure on a lease dispute with the building’s owner, who allegedly failed to include “acceptable conditions for this kind of business” to survive. Despite restrictions related to the residential units atop the space, Gauthier and Lalonde were able to “come to a compromise that was was convenient for both parties,” Journal Métro reported in late June.
Lotfi Belgherbi, manager at the bar since its opening last week, tells Eater changes to its look (a lot more greenery) and drinks menu (all wines are now privately imported and some are natural) are intended to appeal to a younger crowd.
The bistro and bar will retain their distinct identities, but the hope is that locals will increasingly think of them as a single destination: “The idea is that people will come have their apéro on one side, then go have dinner at the other, and then come back for their digestif,” Belgherbi says. This was already the habit of many who had visited the Rosemont landmark before its closure, but with Gauthier now at the helm of both establishments, Belgherbi says we can expect more intentional coordination.
Speaking of the official reopening of the 80-year-old institution last Wednesday, Belgherbi says, “It was a success, with many people from the neighbourhood wanting to get in, and there just not being enough space, especially with the new measures in place. We obviously couldn’t fill the place like we would have wanted to.”
Provincial government regulations continue to mandate that the number of people in bars be limited to 50 percent of licensed capacity, that clientele remain seated, and that establishments respect a closing time of 1 a.m.
Bar Chez Roger is open at 2300 Beaubien East every day from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m.