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Seated in the back of Moishes dining room, I’m captivated by an Old Hollywood feel emanating from this room. It’s a Wednesday, and the deep dining room is almost full. Howie Mandel sits at one table with Andy Nulman. Aaron Rand is at another with his beautiful wife. There’s also a cast of regulars here who greet the waiters by name. But there are also quite a few young people, and a restaurant critic with his family, who are inhaling mega steaks. Everyone seems to be talking about the same thing: the restaurant’s new look. And from the buzz around me, all comments were favourable.

 

An establishment acquired by founder Moishe Lighter in a poker game in 1938, Moishes is Montreal’s oldest, continuously operating fine-dining restaurant in the same location. Magnan’s Tavern and Wilensky’s date back to 1932, Schwartz’s 1928, and Dilalo Burger and The Montreal Pool Room are coming up on a century. But in the upscale category, Moishes is where you’ll see up to four generations of customers eating together at the same table.

 

Yet with a completely refreshed dining room decor launched last week, Moishes is proving that a restaurant is never too old if it keeps up with the times. “As we’re approaching our 75th anniversary, our goal is to stay in the game,” says Lenny Lighter, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother Larry, and can be found working the dining room most nights. “We cannot rest on our laurels. Our aim is to keep this legacy my father left behind going for another 75 years, which is a challenge. But it’s fun, too. We have a tough clientele who never have any problem telling me what’s wrong. But so far, everyone across the board is loving it.”

 

Lighter worked closely with interior designer Patty Xenos on the renovation and design, which still has a masculine steak house look, but is now infused with a big dose of retro Montreal. His primary inspiration was New York City’s Minetta Tavern, a restaurant that opened in Greenwich Village in 1937 but was rejuvenated when taken over by Keith McNally in 2008. “I liked the way they took something old and infused new life into it,” says Lighter.

 

And yet Lighter also knew that with such a large number of regular customers, a completely new look was out of the question. “We’re aware that for a lot of people Moishes represents tradition – not ours, but their own,” Lighter says. “So the room still had to feel like Moishes, maintain that warmth. And I think we’ve achieved that. I think it’s more Moishes now than the restaurant has ever been.”

 

The patterned tin ceiling casts a glow over the room thanks to several flat, round chandeliers illuminated with hundreds of light bulbs. The space is now framed in dark brick walls, and the sweep from the back to front of the 200-seat dining room, complete with starched linen-topped tables and studded brown leather chairs, is unique in Montreal. Waiters and busboys hustle about delivering bowls of Kosher dill pickles, coleslaw, and house specialties like marinated salmon, verenikas, and the famous chopped liver, as well as newer menu items like lobster rolls, grilled beet salad and BBQ chicken.

 

On the south side of the room is an illuminated map of Montreal circa 1879. Lining an entire wall, this map speaks volumes about this establishment’s devotion to its city. “I remembered seeing and liking a grid of turn-of-the-century New York City,” Lighter says. “We’re part of Montreal, we’re part of the Main, so I specifically wanted St. Lawrence Boulevard. We found it in the city’s archives. That map harks back to the post-industrial era when Moishes started out. Our building is on that map.”

 

Lighter fondly recalls the evolution of the dining room decor. “In the ’50s, it was elaborate and kitsch,” he says. “I remember gold chandeliers with these sort of globes. Then in the ’70s, we had three-coloured chairs, orange, purple and red, and this metallic wallpaper. This place was like being in a drum, when we were really busy, the sound would bounce off the walls. We had a fire in the ’80s and renovated, and from that time I recall a lot of wood panelling. In the ’90s, we finally opened up the windows and brought in new fabric and paintings loaned from the Dominion Gallery.”

 

But as the retail business grew, Lighter knew the time was ripe for a reno. “Moishes has become a brand,” he says. “I looked around the restaurant a number of years ago, and realized that it no longer reflected the image of our brand, the story, the legacy my father left us. The packaging on our products speaks about that emotion, but the restaurant did not. I got to a point where I tired of the restaurant, but more than that it was important to have a space and environment that speaks to who we are and what we feel.”

 

Other changes include a new section of the menu with a lower price point, because as Lighter says, “When we spoke to people, one of the complaints was that the restaurant was too expensive. We wanted to lower the bar to broaden our customer base.”

 

A new section of the menu called The Lighter Selection (a play on the family name) includes lower-priced items like a Kobe burger and steak frites. There’s also a Three Hours to Midnight menu, from 9 p.m. to midnight, Thursday to Saturday that offers a two-course meal for $25.

 

A meal for $25 in an upscale steak house? Unheard of. Yet Lighter waves off the steak house moniker. “I think we’ve transcended categories like that. We’re not just a steak house. We’re Moishes.”

 

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/look+Moishes/4889398/story.html#ixzz1OFxMp0Np

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  • 1 month later...

I checked their Facebook page/group and it says they are working on an online butcher shop. I know 40 Westt / Queue de Cheval have something similar, you can buy meat from them like, if they were an ordinary butcher or so I have been told.

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  • 9 years later...

C'est peut-être un adieu sur la Main, mais pas un au revoir.  Je présume que Sportscene Group (La Cage) trouvera un emplacement de choix pour cette institution montréalaise.

À très bientôt, je l'espère... 😢🥩

Brownstein: Moishes bids adieu to the Main
But Lenny Lighter pledges the famous Montreal steakhouse will return. “I don’t know where. I don’t know when. But we will be back.”

Bill Brownstein  •  Montreal Gazette  |  Aug 19, 2020  •  Last Updated 5 hours ago  •  4 minute read

0415-city-col-brownstein.jpg?quality=100
“Yes, we’re part of St-Laurent Blvd. Yes, we’re part of the Plateau,” says Moishes' Lenny Lighter. “But as a business, we wanted to do more." PIERRE OBENDRAUF / Montreal Gazette files

Say bye-bye to Moishes on the Main. There will forever be an empty hole on Montreal’s most storied boulevard. 

Moishes’ Lenny Lighter confirmed Tuesday that the iconic steakhouse, closed since the start of the pandemic, won’t reopen on the Main. Moishes, by far the city’s oldest fine-dining eatery operating out of the same spot, had managed to stay operational during the Second World War, the 1998 ice storm and recessions over the course of its 83 years on the street, but this is the end of the line at that location. 

However, Lighter has pledged Moishes will return. “I don’t know where. I don’t know when. But we will be back.” 

Moishes is viewed by many as the premier steakhouse not only in the city, but on the planet, having been included on no less than Forbes magazine’s Top 10 list of sirloin joints. 

The building that houses Moishes was sold last year. The restaurant lease expires in December.   

Moishes, previously owned by the Lighter family, was sold to the Sportscene Group in December 2018, with Lenny Lighter staying on as the restaurant’s corporate director.  

The plan had been to relocate Moishes to a new facility at Victoria Square, in the same building as Toqué!, another Montreal classic. Sportscene had been set to invest nearly $5 million in the new Moishes, with construction to begin Aug. 1 and opening set for October or November. Then came the pandemic, and all bets were off.

Sportscene is also owner of La Cage, which cut 30 per cent of its workforce and closed four restaurants in July. 

Sportscene’s major interest in initially acquiring Moishes had more to do with the retail side of the operation. More than 30 Moishes products, including pickles, coleslaw and steaks, are sold in Quebec at IGA and Costco as well as in other provinces, representing a far larger share of revenues — estimated at about 75 per cent — than the restaurant itself. 

Lighter had been much in favour of moving Moishes from the Main.  

“Yes, we’re part of St-Laurent Blvd. Yes, we’re part of the Plateau,” Lighter said. “But as a business, we wanted to do more. And to do that, we wanted to do lunch, which wasn’t really possible at our location, because we’re 100 per cent destination. So over the years, I had been looking for other locations where we could do lunches and 5-à-7s and have a nice terrasse. 

“Part of the attraction in our marriage to Sportscene was they were fully on line with wanting to move Moishes, from a business and brand perspective. And they were fully committed to building a new Moishes. We really felt that for the next 80 years Moishes had to be somewhere else. We were moving down that path, and all the plans had been done for the restaurant. We were really bullish on the move. Then COVID hits, and everything changes.” 

As it has for just about every restaurant in the city. 

“No one is spending that kind of money on building a restaurant in this day and age, when lunch is not working for anybody in the city and when dinner is 50 per cent at best. So where we are now is on hold. We will see how things develop. We will be looking for new opportunity. But Moishes is coming back. It’s important for me and my legacy, and it’s important for Sportscene. It’s also imperative to reunite our work family, which is my family.” 

In lieu of offering takeout since closing in March, Moishes — with the volunteer help of family and workers — had been making meals for the homeless and front-line health-care workers. 

The genesis of Moishes is the stuff of novels. Moishe Lighter, a one-time busboy and father of Lenny, had acquired the steakhouse — originally known as the Romanian Paradise — after winning it from his boss in a poker game. 

Moishes quickly became a fixture for generations of families who craved familiarity, not to mention filet mignon. It also became a magnet for politicos and showbiz personalities, both local and international.  

Times may change, but Moishes on the Main will be much missed. It could well prove daunting to replicate the restaurant elsewhere, with its distinctive ornate mahogany wood surfaces, tin ceiling and red-brick walls. Not to mention its old-world charm and warmth, built up over more than four decades, which had seen local history change almost everywhere else but there.

https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/brownstein-moishes-bids-adieu-to-the-main

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Le 2020-08-19 à 12:08, Chuck-A a dit :

The plan had been to relocate Moishes to a new facility at Victoria Square, in the same building as Toqué!, another Montreal classic. Sportscene had been set to invest nearly $5 million in the new Moishes, with construction to begin Aug. 1 and opening set for October or November. Then came the pandemic, and all bets were off.

Dans l'immeuble de la Caisse de dépôt (édifice Jacques-Parizeau)? Il remplace le Houston ou le Steak Frites Saint-Paul?

Je n'ai pas passé par là depuis le début de la pandémie. 

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You know Victoria Square/Multimédia/Quartier international is the new place to be in Mtl when even Moishes leaves the Main for that neighbourhood. If they could only build a 45-50 stories on that empty lot next to the Humanity and Palais and a 50-60 stories on Cité International phase 2. 

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9 minutes ago, Rocco said:

You know Victoria Square/Multimédia/Quartier international is the new place to be in Mtl when even Moishes leaves the Main for that neighbourhood. If they could only build a 45-50 stories on that empty lot next to the Humanity and Palais and a 50-60 stories on Cité International phase 2. 

Ouais ben si tu veux faire des lunchs, c'est pas mal plus pertinent que sur la Main, vu la masse de travailleurs (et si leurs lunchs est comparable au niveau prix de leur menu de soir, pas n'importe quel travailleur...). Les gens ne vont pas très loin sur leur heure de dîner ou une rencontre d'affaire sur le midi.

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On 2020-08-19 at 12:08 PM, Chuck-A said:

“Yes, we’re part of St-Laurent Blvd. Yes, we’re part of the Plateau,” Lighter said. “But as a business, we wanted to do more. And to do that, we wanted to do lunch, which wasn’t really possible at our location, because we’re 100 per cent destination. So over the years, I had been looking for other locations where we could do lunches and 5-à-7s and have a nice terrasse. 

Je me rappel pas la dernière fois que je suis sorti sur la Main...

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11 minutes ago, Rocco said:

La Main est morte en même temps que St-Denis. C'est juste pu là que ça se passe. Pu pantoute.

Les deux n'ont rien à voir, Saint-Denis a presque le double de locaux vacants de la Main, deux fois plus de locaux à louer. La Main est bien plus diversifiée et stable dans son offre commerciale. Ça a simplement changé de clientèle avec le temps, ou la clientèle s'est juste tannée des clubs et des vieux restos. L'un ou l'autre.

D'ailleurs, pour Moishes, c'est justement l'aspect destination qui posait un problème selon le propriétaire. Tu veux une clientèle locale pour l'heure du midi. Ce n'est pas la dynamique d'une rue commerciale, il y a beaucoup moins d'emplois à proximité contrairement au centre-ville.

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