Disappointing news for Old Montreal — and many Montrealers — today: Restaurateur, television personality, and prolific grocery item developer Chuck Hughes’s acclaimed seafood-centric basement restaurant Le Bremner has officially closed.
Hughes announced the news on his Instagram account today (June 7), blaming a dispute with his landlord at 361 St Paul Street East as the defining reason for the closure.
“As some of you may know, Le Bremner suffered water damage 15 months ago because of a fire in the building. Unfortunately, the landlord’s repairs are still not completed. The endless parade of lawyers and conflicts with the landlord leave us with no other choice but to leave the building,” Hughes explained in the post, which was then also shared on Facebook. A photo included in the post’s carousel of images shows the underground Le Bremner space overrun with what looks like hundreds of construction buckets filled with rubble.
The news was promptly met in the comments section with an outpouring of sadness and support from members of the Montreal restaurant community, including Stefano Faita and Michele Forgione (both of Impasto, Gema, Chez Tousignant, and Vesta), Kimberly Lallouz (Le Bird Bar, Restaurant du MAC), and Derek Dammann (Maison Publique, McKiernan), as well as patrons who’d visited the restaurant throughout its decade-long existence.
Just weeks ago, at the end of April, Le Bremner’s esteemed head chef Danny Smiles announced that he’d be moving on to the position of executive chef and manager of the historic Willow Inn in Hudson, located 60 kilometres outside of Montreal.
Old Montreal nonetheless remains home to another Hughes institution, 15-year-old Le Garde-Manger, helmed by chef Christopher Merrick, which will be reopening its dining room later this week, on June 10.
And while Hughes hints to their perhaps being something else in the pipeline — he says, “Stay tuned, we’re eager to share the new part of our journey with all of you,” — his caption reading “RIP Le Bremner,” suggests a return of the local and tourist favourite may not be what’s in the cards.