Mollies, the latest from Molly Superfine-Rivera and Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly of Mile-Ex’s Marconi, is quite the departure from their buzzy Mile-Ex spot for polished cocktails and seasonal fare. For starters, it isn’t even in Montreal.
Located in the town of Sutton, approximately 110 kilometres southeast of Montreal, the new project is an all-day diner and café geared toward locals and families. They’ll serve sandwiches, salads, soups, muffins, loaves, and eggs any way, and revisit hearty diner classics, spiking breakfast hash with beef tongue, for example. Otherwise, expect rustic, warming, fit-for-the-country foods, like fall-time apple pie, and meaty, bean-filled stews. Ingredients are locally sourced, in most cases from Eastern Township suppliers directly, and they’ll roast their own coffee.
It’s all pretty straightforward other than the fact that Mollies will take over the space — and fill the gaping hole — left by community fixture Le Cafetier, which shuttered last month. “People are really hurting this month since it closed because they don’t have anywhere else to go,” Superfine-Rivera says. “It’s really the only place in town that is open all day starting with breakfast as of 7:00 a.m ... It’s really the town hub, the center of this community, physically and emotionally — everyone gathers there. So people keep coming in and asking us, ‘Where do I go?’ and ‘When are you opening?’”
The answer to that last question is November 4, if all goes to plan. And like its predecessor, Mollies will open promptly at 7 a.m. daily, continue to append the work of local artists on its walls, and most importantly, remain just as unflinchingly community-oriented, Superfine-Rivera says. “We want everyone to keep treating this space as their little hub because it was for so long,” she says.
Their vision for the spot crystallized quickly, but opening something out in Sutton was hardly in the plans — at least not originally. Before the pandemic, Brunet-Benkritly and Superfine-Rivera had purchased a cottage in the area, with the inkling that, maybe, “years down the road,” they might open up something in town, drawing on the area’s year-round tourism, largely owing to its proximity to the mountain. But one day, they found themselves casually scrolling through a listing of businesses for sale, and landed on Le Cafetier, a spot they’d frequented a handful of times.
They knew they had to act quickly, and approached Marconi chef de cuisine Johnathan Prima to see if he’d be interested in taking the reins in the kitchen and joining them as owners. (He agreed.) Superfine-Rivera (Molly) will be steering the front-of-house full-time, hence the restaurant’s name. As for Brunet-Benkritly, he’ll hold down the fort in Montreal.
Aesthetically, little will change from the former tenant save for the addition of some banquette seating, a small children’s play corner, and a fresh coat of creamy white paint that Superfine-Rivera admits to choosing, at least in part, because of its fitting name: “vanilla ice cream.”
Superfine-Rivera says another reason the team isn’t getting overzealous with plans for complicated dining room makeovers or intricate menus is the region’s decades-long staffing shortage, which, she notes, far predates the pandemic. “We’re very conscious of that. We don’t want to take on too much. We really need to keep it efficient and simple because there are just not enough people to work in a restaurant that does anything that’s more elaborate.”
Come winter though, Superfine-Rivera hopes Mollies will morph into a buvette (wine bar) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, doling out charcuterie, preserves, beer, wine, cider, and maybe some vermouth-based drinks. (For those wondering, Superfine-Rivera’s gorgeous cocktails at Marconi will stay put in the city.)
Resemblances between Marconi and Mollies — other than their owners — are scarce. Patrons of the Mozart Avenue restaurant will, however, notice the reprisal of its beefy burgers and crisp homemade granola — two items, more casual than Marconi’s standard play, that were introduced as takeout in the face of pandemic lockdowns.
“We just want everyone to be able to come in to Mollies and find something that they want to eat. We don’t want to be too niche. Marconi is a little more niche, and we’re not playing that game at all over here,” Superfine-Rivera says.
Mollies is expected to open in November at 9 rue Principale Nord, Sutton, QC.