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Le Faubourg Sainte-Catherine


carswell
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Another one bites the dust. Plantation, downtown Montreal's best green grocer, was boarded up when I dropped by the Faubourg last week. It follows in the footsteps of the fish monger and various butchers. In fact, except for the Italian bakery, the bagel bakery, Scoops and some ice-cream and cookie joints, the Faubourg is now devoid of bulk/raw food purveyors. And with the SAQ store closed, the place was deader than a doorknob. There wasn't even a line at Cuisine Bangkok at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight.

I always thought the Faubourg concept would fly. There are lots of people who live and work in the neighbourhood. It's a short block away from a busy metro station and bus nexus. There's a steady flow of pedestrian traffic on that stretch of Ste-Catherine. And the restaurants in and around the place do good business. So what gives? The fact that there's no parking? The shuttering of the movie theatres? The closing of the Forum and the ensuing decline of Ste-Catherine west of Guy?

What with Conk U's erection of its new engineering and fine arts building (the hulking strucutre on the northeast corner of Guy and Ste-Catherine) and eventual takeover of the Grey Nuns' convent just behind the FSC, you have to wonder whether the university's started viewing the FSC as a missing link, whether they have their sights set on it, too. It'd make a hell of a student union building and could probably be transformed into a decent sports centre, both of which the Sir George Williams campus sorely lacks.

In the meantime, what might the owners do to turn the place around? Any suggestions?

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I think the fact that the area is starting to turn into a ghetto doesn't help the concept. When I used to live in the are I loved the Faubourg, but now that Concordia is taking over the joint and that the income bracket is shrinking in that zone (post Forum) the idea is a bust.

They could make it a boutique shopping type of thing (but the insanity of parking in the area definitely hurts it). I'm not sure, maybe a Walmart? (joking).

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  • 2 weeks later...
Wow, I'm surprised to hear about Plantation. Although since they're owned by the Warsaw folks, I always did wonder what might happen. Do you think it has to do with the new PA opening up? How are they doing?

Have been racking my brain trying to figure out what the PA is, Maeve. Personal Assistant? Nah. Dyslexic A&P? Not likely. Prince Albert? Let's not go there... How about a hint?

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Mourelatos is now almost right across the street.

http://www.mourelatos.com/francais/superma...atosgourmet.htm

Le fauburg has always been a near miss.

The idea is good but the execution is not so good.

Hey, Kenk. Long time no see!

If nothing else, Mourelatos was surely the straw that broke Plantation's back. M's produce wasn't as good as P's but M had the inestimable advantage of being a one-stop shop, especially after the Faubourg's butchers and fish mongers bit the dust.

That said, the Faubourg's decline began long before Mourelatos became the new kid on the block. Maybe it was doomed from the start. I'd like to think that downtown could support a food emporium, but I guess it never has: Eaton's basement had one (my first sightings of crayfish and steel cut oats in Montreal); and there was one on the south side of Ste-Catherine across from Plaza Alexis Nihon; and there was that gourmet grocery store that moved from Mountain or Drummond to PVM. All went the way of the dodo. What with workers, residents and visitors downtown, it's not like the potential isn't there. Are high rents the reason?

Anyway, I wonder if a short-term fix for the Faubourg wouldn't be to move the food stalls from the second to the ground floor. The restos' business would probably pick up a little (a lot of people won't make the trip upstairs, and it's not particularly obvious to newcomers what's up there) and the downstairs would feel less like a morgue.

Oh, and last week I noticed that the Faubourg's cheese shop has also closed...

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Hee hee. Sorry to have been the source of brain racking for you, Carswell, so early in the year.

PA stands for Park Ave, as in the supermarche PA that's originally located on du Parc north of St Joseph and expanded into downtown, taking over the old curling rink on Fort St. (was the oldest curling club in Canada, I believe)

PA has been suppling Mile Enders for decades with good produce etc (for a while I heard tales of organic beef that was priced so low that people wouldn't buy it, suspicious of its authenticity. They had to jack the prices for it to move... It's also well known for the comely cashiers).

I haven't been in the Fort location yet, but imagine it's had an impact on Faubourg. I get nervous thinking about where I'd go for great cheap Thai if the complex were to close.

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  • 3 weeks later...
PA stands for Park Ave, as in the supermarche PA that's originally located on du Parc north of St Joseph and expanded into downtown, taking over the old curling rink on Fort St. (was the oldest curling club in Canada, I believe)

[...]

I  haven't been in the Fort location yet, but imagine it's had an impact on Faubourg. I get nervous thinking about where I'd go for great cheap Thai if the complex were to close.

And here I always thought it stood for Petros Alexandropoulos or some such. Park Ave., eh? How banal...

Anyway, I know and frequent the PA location but had no idea they'd expanded. Can see how they'd offer some real competition to the Faubourg and Plantation. Wonder if Mourelatos feels like a sitting duck...

Like you, I dread the thought of losing Cuisine Bangkok. BTW, I've been noticing that one of the more popular stalls is the Taiwanese place at the west end of the north row. Ever try it?

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The place with the deep fried pork chops, right? I've only had their bubble tea. I am curious about them and have heard good things. I'm also tempted by the Lebanese place next to Bangkok. It must be a bit tough for them seeing the line ups at their neighbour's. I imagine they catch some overspill, though.

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The place with the deep fried pork chops, right? I am curious about them and have heard good things.

Yep. I should also point out that a large portion of their clientele appears to be of Taiwanese extraction, always an encouraging sign. How about we agree that whoever eats there first will post a thumbs up/down style report?

I'm also tempted by the Lebanese place next to Bangkok. It must be a bit tough for them seeing the line ups at their neighbour's.

Hah! I've taken pity on them once or twice; they always seem so forlorn next to Cuisine Bangkok. As you might guess from the looks of the place (one of the neater shawarma joints in town), the food is pretty good. It's just that I can get decent shish taouk at any number of fastfood joints around town, something that unfortunately isn't true about, say, pad thai or squid with eggplant and basil.

I imagine they catch some overspill, though.

I'm under the impression that most of their business comes from Arab students. When you've got the jones for it, only Thai will do, even if you have to queue up.

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... and then there's the sad moroccan place right next door. i always feel sorry for them, too. the moroccan guy is always sitting at the table next to their section, looking bored. but the thing is, bankok is so so so good. sigh. no sfemj for me, thanks; gimme the cashew chicken!

"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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... and then there's the sad moroccan place right next door. i always feel sorry for them, too. the moroccan guy is always sitting at the table next to their section, looking bored. but the thing is, bankok is so so so good. sigh. no sfemj for me, thanks; gimme the cashew chicken!

"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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... and then there's the sad moroccan place right next door.  i always feel sorry for them, too.  the moroccan guy is always sitting at the table next to their section, looking bored.  but the thing is, bankok is so so so good.  sigh.  no sfemj for me, thanks; gimme the cashew chicken!

I love that Moroccan place. Really, it's not bad! Sometimes the Cusine Bangkok lineup is too daunting, so I jet over to the Moroccan place instead...

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  • 4 weeks later...
I think the fact that the area is starting to turn into a ghetto doesn't help the concept.

huh?

my guess is that the combined effect of PA and all of the little arab groceries that have opened up in the area helped drive plantation under. you also have to remember that the part of downtown west of guy is pretty saturated when it comes to fresh produce: the aformentioned PA and greengrocers, plus mourelato's, provigo and IGA.

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I work downtown and was used to doing my groceries at the Faubourg when they had EVERYTHING. So I went a couple of times to the new PA and it's fantastic. I got some great deals on very fresh produce (grape tomatoes for 99¢/pint, $1.99 for a huge bunch of asparagus) but the greatest deals are at the cheese and fish counters. I loaded up on fresh fish and seafood and big chunks of Chaumes and pepper Brie (yummy) for a fraction of what I would pay elsewhere. It has become my new favorite grocery stop!

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