One-time Montreal rotisserie chicken landmark Laurier BBQ has made a comeback — well, sort of. A new venture going by the same name has opened on St-Viateur Street — a couple blocks away from where the original once stood, on Laurier — and comes from a trio of new owners who say they want to bring back some of its signature dishes. Franco Parreira, Maxime Tremblay, and Emmanuel Goubard (owners of Saint-Lambert restaurant Victoria BBQ and the now-defunct restaurant 3734 in St-Henri) are behind the revival, which opened yesterday as a (mostly) takeout affair (there are reportedly a few tables set up outside).
Like the original, the reanimated Laurier BBQ is serving up a menu of rotisserie chicken meals with fries, coleslaw, and gravy, as well as a host of salads, sandwiches, and desserts, including reproductions of the restaurant’s near-legendary moka and carrot cakes. Tremblay previously told Eater that to recreate the dishes the team has enlisted the help of a focus group comprised of former patrons, as well as the expertise of someone who had once worked there.
The new Laurier BBQ takes over a space on St-Viateur that has sat vacant since 2019, when Patisserie Chez de Gaulle was forced to close after being hit with a 55 percent rent hike. Real estate firm Shiller Lavy was the landlord then, and remains so today.
The original Laurier BBQ, located at 381 Avenue Laurier West, was in business for a solid 75 years, up until 2011. Shortly after closing, Stephen Shiller and Danny Lavy (yes, of the aforementioned Shiller Lavy firm), along with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, embarked on a tumultuous attempt to revive the restaurant, but wound up in litigation, and closed after just six months of operation. The restaurant was then reopened as Laurier 1936, referring to the year it was established, but closed again for what many thought would be for good.
Though Shiller and Lavy once held the trademark to Laurier BBQ, it seems to have been abandoned in 2018. However, the pair filed a second application for it in 2017, which has been accepted and formalized, but seems to still be under examination for approval, according to information available on the Canadian Trademark database. In March, Tremblay told Eater that he and his partners “bought the license from them, and they are not involved in our operation.”
When news of the Laurier BBQ revival got out in March, someone stapled a flyer addressed to Shiller Lavy at the locale, reading, “Why here? Why still more chicken?” After all, the street was already home to rotisserie chicken spot Serrano BBQ, and Portuguese haunts Mile End Grill and Cantine Emilia. Since then, fried chicken purveyor Jack Le Coq has also opened up, and around the corner on St-Laurent, so has Le Coq Frit. Of course, the flyer wasn’t just — or even mostly — about the chicken: It took issue with real estate firm’s footprint in the neighbourhood, pleading for a harmonious balance of small neighbourhood businesses and affordable housing, instead of empty storefronts and luxury apartments.
Another faction of Montrealers, however, seem delighted that the flavours they’ve so craved for nearly a decade are now making a return. When the restaurant posted its menu to Facebook last week, in anticipation of the opening, a number shared their excitement. In one comment, someone recounted how they’d ask their parents for a Laurier BBQ carrot cake for their birthday every year throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Another mentioned how, in the ’50s and ’60s, they’d meet up with friends at the restaurant to eat some moka cake in one of its banquettes. “What ... marvellous memories,” that person added.
Still others, who seem to be intimately familiar with the original’s menu, questioned the absence of certain items, including its sugar and coconut cream pies, and vegetable and French onion soups. It seems that those can rest assured: Tremblay told Tastet that they’ve opened with a pared-down menu of classics, but that once they are able to faithfully replicate other dishes, those, too, will be added to the roster.
Laurier BBQ is open Wednesday to Sunday 4 to 8 p.m. at 231 St-Viateur West.