The Most Heartbreaking Montreal Restaurant Closures of 2020
As is the tradition with Eater, we close the year by asking a group of food writers, bloggers, and others across the city to consider the year of eating. Your answers – unprocessed (except grammar) and in no particular order – will be published in multiple posts when the clock runs out by 2020. Here they look back at some of the most heartbreaking restaurant stores of the year.
Joanna Fox, Food writerand Associate Editor ELLE Canada: It was so heartbreaking to see Grumman 78 around. I’ve written about them since they launched their food truck many years ago, and their headquarters have always had a special place in my heart. It was also sad to see the news of Agrikol’s recent closure – this place had amazing energy and spirit like no other in Montreal.
JP Karwacki, Time out Montreal editor: They’ve all hit hard, and for different reasons – Orange Rouge, Agrikol, La Récolte, Balsam Inn – but most importantly, Saint-Henri won’t feel the same without Grumman 78.
Iris Gagnon-Paradis, Press Restaurant reporter:: I think the closure of Grumman 78 at the beginning of the second wave was really a shock to a lot of people, and it was really symbolic too, because Grumman was one of the first places everything was changed to do something to take away. I was also sad to see La Récolte, Orange Rouge and Agrikol go a few days ago.
Alison Slattery, main photographer, Two food photographers::
- Grumman 78
- Su (but we will make it to Ferme Bika, that’s for sure)
- La Caverne on the Côte des Neiges also has some really great memories for Farah and me when we first went out together – all the taxidermists, the salad oiler, the vodka and the little Russian woman singing live on her mini laptop!
Jason Lee, Food Blogger, Shut up and eat: Grumman 78. The pioneers of the food truck movement in Montreal; I also have great memories of special events at their headquarters. And Bar-B-Barn. Because it’s one of those places that you think will be open forever.
Clay Sandhu, Foodwriter, Cult MTL: It’s sad to see a restaurant nearby – but it happens. Fortunately, almost all of my favorite places so far have made it to stay in business. For me personally, I mourn the loss of Snack n ‘Blues. It is known that old owner Steve Katina-Glow’s prime was long behind him and the bar had been for sale for some time. But I liked it there – I liked the snacks, I didn’t care about the blues. It was one of the few classic mile-end symbols, and I’m sad to see it come to that.
Anonymous, @FNoMTL: We are still waiting for the one who hurts. Le Pickup and Beautys, which are currently closed, even temporarily, make me nervous.
They’re not restaurants, but the Tokyo and Le Château closure was a reality check. Nothing is sacred. The things we associate with this city are not going to survive just because of nostalgia or brand awareness.
Really, what hit the hardest thing about closures was recognizing the immense trickle effect. People travel here to eat their way through the city. Students, artists, teachers, musicians – a lot of people count on waiting tables, doing catering appearances, being bartenders, or cleaning dishes to do what they really want. The loss of the ability to “return to tables waiting” is enormous. The loss of these few festival weeks in summer is enormous. I don’t think we have come close to understanding how much this one industry affects everything else.
Amie Watson, freelance food writer, Montreal Gazette and 5à7 podcast: Come on, everyone will say Grumman 78, no? These guys inspired, trained, and helped so many other restaurateurs and food companies in Montreal open their own spaces. They were also important to legalize food trucks. And her summer St-Henri spot was a destination. To me they are legends.
The other two that hit me harder were L’Escalier and Le Smoking Vallée. L’Escalier had a great vibe and gave so many aspiring musicians a place to play. It was such an affordable, friendly place. A cider and bowl of vegetarian chilli on a cold day definitely helped many students get through a winter in Montreal. And Le Smoking Vallée dates back to when St-Henri didn’t have many cool restaurants. They had the courage to improve BYOB in this area eight years ago, and they managed to build such a loyal following. I hope they are in a different context again after the pandemic.
Rachel Cheng, Photographer and food security activist: La Récolte: They were such great masters at local producers and growers, with a space and staff that made you feel like every meal came home.
Ivy Lerner-Frank, Eater Montreal contributor: San Gennaro is just around the corner from me, and although they are technically open, I miss hanging out there, especially on their terrace in the summer (once I’ve overcome my fear of being run over while drinking my cortado). I love all of their pizzas al taglio, but the breakfast pizza was very dear to my heart which is broken now as they don’t seem to make it anymore.