Restaurant chains get a bad rep for many reasons. Be it the fast food mentality, the international corporate domination or the lack of heart, larger restaurant chains have tarnished our view of them. On a smaller scale, several chains, born right here in Montreal, are helping to change the way we think, one new location at a time. Here are three local restaurant chains that are going up against the big guys and taking their much deserved piece of the pie.
In the early days of the new millennium a collective shift in mentality gave rise to a lifestyle trend that focused on balance and a healthy lifestyle. Yoga, Pilates and meditation became as popular as traditional workouts and the health food craze kicked into high gear (though the east coast was slow to catch up to our west coast countrymen). Since then we’ve seen a rise in salad bars and other health food options in food courts and chains like Mandy’s Salads have enjoyed a well-nourished growth becoming one of Montreal’s most coveted hotspots.
Since 2004, fans have flocked to Mandy’s for their deliciously hearty salads, smoothies and more. With 4 locations in Montreal, including a beautiful new location in Old Montreal (it opened on the worst snowstorm of the year and the place was packed), the décor is Parisian country chic and highly Instagramable. People swear by Mandy’s salads and as they become even more accessible with new locations, the brand remains true to their roots by providing great, healthy food in an atmosphere as chic as it is décontracté.
Jerome Ferrer is a man on a mission to take over the world. For close to 15 years he’s helmed Europea, one of Montreal’s best high-end restaurants. Getting his feet wet early on, he experimented with a second Europea location in Old Montreal that offered great lunches featuring gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches. The location is also home to a wonderful selection of desserts and macarons. A couple of years ago Jerome began a new project with Jerry, a snack shop that offers great burgers, poutines and other comfort food typical to Montreal. After expanding to several locations across the city and going through several name changes over the years Jerry is about to embark on a brand new adventure.
At the launch of the news Jerry location on Rene-Levesque west, Jerome Ferrer announced a partnership with Just For Laughs that would turn the existing and future locations of the restaurants into comedy themed eateries. Featuring Victor, the JFL mascot and other nods to comedy, Jerry is expect to continue its expansion and deepen in roots in Montreal. Beyond the island, Jerry has begun a more ambitious project to open locations outside Quebec and hopes to expand as far as Europe in the near future. Blending great comfort food and good humour is no laughing matter but we’re glad to see a homegrown chain with so much potential become so successful.
We’ve covered this ground many times before but it has to be repeated that we’re very proud of what L’Gros Luxe has accomplished in as little as three years (approximately). Starting on the corner of Roy and St. Andre on the Plateau, L’Gros Luxe now has 4 locations in the city, one on the south shore and one in Quebec City and they don’t plan on stopping there. Having gone up against the city on several occasions to fight for their right to a serve their patrons a well-rounded meal of food and drink (and the right to erect a terrasse) the chain has repeated shown its spunk thanks to owner Alex Bastide.
The ambition to grow beyond the borders of Montreal while remaining true to how it all began, L’Gros Luxe still offers great food at very, very reasonable prices. They’re constantly busy and consistent with the food they serve. There are often line-ups out the door filled with people that would rather wait to eat at L’Gros Luxe then go somewhere else and get in right away. In a city like Montreal where the choice is endless, that’s the kind of loyalty money can’t buy.