The crew behind (just about) 10-year-old Little Italy pillar Pastaga is making inroads in a different neighbourhood: Their latest project, a daytime brasserie catering to workers in Montreal’s Garment District, is all set to open on October 11.
Aptly called Chabanelle, a play on the name of the street on which it stands, the restaurant will unfurl over the course of a few months, and in three phases, chef Martin Juneau explains. On opening day, it’ll present as more of a café, offering easy breakfast and lunch items — think salads, sandwiches, pastas, and some “vegetable-oriented dishes” — for takeout-only. Once renovations on the 60-seat dining room are complete, diners will be ushered indoors to eat at the brasserie, with operating hours prolonged to give way to early-evening 5 à 7s, with cocktails by general manager Marie-Lyne Fortier (previously at Villeray tapas restaurant Tapeo). Eventually, Chabanelle will also house a pizzeria, slinging a style Juneau describes as a cross between the pies found in New York and Montreal.
Though unable to share the restaurant’s actual menu just yet, Juneau says to expect frequent change-ups. “We don’t want people to feel that, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve been there. We’ve gone around the menu. Let’s move on to somewhere else.’ We want to stay curious ourselves, but mostly we want to keep the attention of everybody working in this area,” he says. (The head offices of apparel companies like SSENSE, Matt & Nat, and Moose Knuckles are all located close by.)
For the project, Juneau is joined by long-time collaborators Alexandre Loiseau and Louis-Philippe Breton, who together have agreed to take on the task of operating the restaurant for its owner, prolific Chabanel Street real estate developer Howard Szalavetz.
“He’s the owner of most of the big buildings on Chabanel, and he came to see us and said that he wanted to open a place, but that he didn’t have the experience that we have to do it.”
Until being approached by Szalavetz, Juneau says that he and his partners had been wholly concentrated on scaling back their business ventures. “We were deep in a reduction mode,” he says, pointing to the recent sale of three of their Beaubien Street spots: grocery shop Le Petit Coin (now the site of Pizza Bouquet), ice cream parlour Monsieur Crémeux, and, most recently, wine bar Le Cul-Sec.
“It’s really heartbreaking for us to sell these small places, but the pandemic made it impossible for us to keep going,” Juneau says.
But the team felt the Szalavetz’s financial backing was too good an opportunity to pass up, and that running a daytime-only operation gelled well with their current personal priorities.
“I’m newly a father for the third time. I have three daughters and I want to spend my time with them,” Juneau says. “Doing late night shifts is not part of my plan anytime soon, and it’s not what I want to be doing in the near future.”
Though 5 à 7s are, eventually, on the way, Chabanelle will be operating from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays only, for starters.
Chabanelle is opening on October 11 at 315 Chabanel Ouest.