If the Moishes reopens its doors on Wednesday far from the Main, a huge menu of Saint-Laurent Boulevard dating from 1879 occupies the central space of the legendary restaurant in Montreal.
From the amber onyx stone seen behind the bar to the chandeliers illuminating the imposing cabernet-colored armchairs, the soul of the Montreal steakhouse founded in 1938 by Moishe Lighter – which hosted Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra – is clearly still there, for its reopening in the international district of the metropolis.
Decor that pays homage to the cachet of the past while being stunning for its time: that was the task of designer Patty Xenos. She was arguably in the best position to do this, having orchestrated the Moishes’ 2011 renovation. she.
But the Moishes could have remained closed for good, said Monday morning Jean Bédard, president of the Grandio Group (formerly Sportscene), who had returned the day before from Bordeaux, where he inaugurated the first branch of La Cage in France and even abroad. outside Quebec.
It was in 2018 that Lenny Lighter, the son of the founder Moishe Lighter, contacted Jean Bédard to ensure the future of Moishes. The latter wanted to have a stronger presence in Montreal, while the Caisse de dépôt wanted the arrival of a high-end restaurant in its building.
However, moving a restaurant like Moishes after the end of its lease to 3961 Saint-Laurent Boulevard was a more realistic plan before than after the pandemic. “For a long time, we weren’t sure we would reopen it,” says Jean Bédard, who works with his two sons and whose group has 4,000 employees.
“There had been a lot of work to preserve the DNA of Moishes, he continues. The plans and design were done…”
So it was only fitting to revive Moishes when normal life resumed. “If all the people who asked me ‘when are you reopening Moishes?’ come, you should be fine,” jokes Jean Bédard.
“The goal is to be also open for lunch in the fall,” he says.
A bit of history: Moishe Lighter was a busboy before he had the restaurant that would bear his name in 1938. He became the owner of the place, the Romanian Paradise, after making a bet with the boss.
“It was a bar,” says designer Patty Xenos, who was keen to replicate the Romanian Paradise tile floor around the new Moishes bar. A bar around which people can sit when it was not the case before. “I saved the heart,” says the designer.
For the private room at the back of the restaurant, Patty Xenos wanted to reproduce a card room. A nod to the lucky hand of Moishe Lighter.
As a child, Patty Xenos frequented the Moishes with her father. According to her, it is necessary to value more the institutions of the Montreal restaurant industry which persist under the sign of tradition and not of trends.
Patty Xenos also wants to highlight the idea that time stands still when you go out to a restaurant. A lot of effort has gone into the acoustics of the new Moishes to make the flow of conversation pleasant, she points out.
On the menu, new dishes – even vegetarian – will be added to the menu of those inspired by Eastern Europe. We promise USDA Prime grade grills.
In the kitchen, we will find chef Murteza Talu, who worked for nearly 10 years in another flagship restaurant in Montreal, Damas.
“It’s an honor and a challenge,” he says, recalling that Moishes was once named one of Forbes magazine’s top 10 best steakhouses in the world.
“You have to carry on the tradition so that people come back to Moishes again in 20 years,” says the one who left Turkey for Canada as an international student when he was 16 years old.
To last in catering, you have to dare while respecting your DNA, adds Jean Bédard. “It’s also about daring to move,” he jokes.