The days of polishing off dish after dish of dim sum on the sixth floor of St-Laurent Street’s Swatow Plaza, at popular Chinatown spot Impérial, are numbered. The three-year-old restaurant has been told by its landlord that it will have to exit the premises in a few months to make way for condos taking its place. But, it certainly won’t be the end for Impérial, whose signage now graces a Taschereau Boulevard strip mall, in Brossard.
The new Brossard restaurant was initially intended to be a second location — an expansion — for the dim sum specialist. However, in July, owners Josh Hsieh and Kyle Cheung were notified by their Chinatown landlord that they were being evicted because the “building is being redeveloped for condos,” a representative for the restaurant tells Eater.
An earlier version of this article reported that the restaurant would be holding its last service at its Chinatown location on Sunday, August 29. However, on August 28, Impérial’s landlord reached out to the owners to share that the timeline for the condo redevelopment project had been revised and that the restaurant will now be able to stay put until at least the end of November, and potentially through the holidays. A representative for the restaurant says they welcome the “good news” and additional months of operation in Chinatown.
The restaurant’s owners still plan to open a new Impérial location on the South Shore in early September, but an “incredibly slow” renovation process has made pinning down an official date for its debut difficult. The rep for the restaurant previously told Eater that the restaurant’s entire staff from its Chinatown location would work at the new South Shore venture, but with the original location now permitted to remain open for a few additional months, this may no longer be the case.
The rep couldn’t go into more detail about the redevelopment project, but did say that it would only affect those businesses located on the complex’s second floor or higher. Eater has not been able to reach reps from Swatow Plaza for confirmation and further information.
News of a Chinatown restaurant — even one as relatively young as Impérial — being squeezed out to usher in more condos is unlikely to sit well with community members and activists fighting to preserve the neighbourhood as it faces mounting gentrification. Concerns and calls for action escalated this spring when news broke that developers Brandon Schiller and Jeremy Kornbluth (the same that prompted Le Cagibi’s Mile End departure) had purchased several historic Chinatown buildings, including one that houses Wing’s noodle factory at the corner of de la Gauchetière and Côté Street.
Hsieh and Cheung opened Impérial in 2017, and the restaurant has been serving steamed shrimp dumplings, barbecue pork buns, and plenty of other dim sum in its spacious banquet hall ever since.
Though slightly smaller, its new space will be “definitely prettier” and a “nicer venue for weddings and parties,” the restaurant rep says. Meanwhile, it’ll join several other Chinese restaurants, including La Maison Kam Fung, Papa Jackie, and Maison Sai Yen, in the off-island suburb of Brossard, home to a Chinese community just shy of 12,000 (out of a population of 85,721). And though the restaurant will be forced to withdraw from Montreal in a few months, the rep hopes it won’t be long before it can make its way back on the island again.
Impérial is slated to open at 8245 Taschereau Boulevard, Brossard, in September, and will remain open in Chinatown until at least the end of November.
Update: August 29, 2021, 12:30 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect new information that Impérial’s departure from Swatow Plaza has been postponed.