The end of an era for Deno's

The owner of a Montreal restaurant open since 1958 will take the summer to think about the future of his business, undermined by the lack of customers in Saint-Denis and the lack of manpower.

The end of an era for Deno's

The owner of a Montreal restaurant open since 1958 will take the summer to think about the future of his business, undermined by the lack of customers in Saint-Denis and the lack of manpower.

Located across from the new CHUM, the establishment has for decades welcomed employees of the health network, and more recently, the workers responsible for the renovation of the hospital, who came to have a bite of pizza or chicken souvlaki. .

However, it closed its doors on April 22.

“Since 2006, we have been dealing with the construction of the CHUM. It was not bad for us, because it brought us new customers, but it was very disturbing for our regular customers. And we knew that it was a clientele that would eventually leave at the end of the work,” explained the owner’s son, Billy Gionis, 49, in an interview.

His father bought this “corner restaurant” from Mr. Deno himself in the 1980s. “We would have liked to stay a few more years. It's still 34 years of our lives. But in the current context of catering, that no longer interested us, ”said Mr. Gionis.

A difficult context

The labor shortage is a phenomenon that already existed before the pandemic, but which has worsened in the last two years. For Mr. Gionis, there is no possible comparison between the situation then and today.

“When we started this adventure, we had employees who were really interested in the restaurant business. It takes a minimum of love to make meals. Even if we want to serve our customers well, it has become difficult to get the message across to employees. The customer is no longer king as he was at the time,” he lamented.

The business requires a certain level of experience from its employees, since the menu is heavier. "It's not like in a 'fast food'," said Mr. Gionis.

Moreover, training an inexperienced workforce requires the investment of time, with no guarantee that recruits will stay. "Running after employees was not for us," he added.

The pandemic: a blow for restaurateurs

This is not new, but the pandemic has particularly affected restaurants and tourism. Today, rue Saint-Denis is not what it used to be, according to the owner's son.

In addition to running out of tourists, the expansion of the CHUM has shifted the access points to the hospital, so that fewer and fewer healthcare workers or hospital visitors are going to Deno's.

The restaurant is not as crowded as before. The idea of ​​modernizing it began to germinate in the minds of the Gionis family, but with the "unpromising" future of the restaurant sector, the 81-year-old owner chose to put the project on hold and " thinking" about what the future holds.

"The restaurant was very successful at one time, but with the current context and the arrival of companies like Uber, it's time to make room for others," said Billy Gionis.


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