Montreal loses a legendary steakhouse after 82 years

Montreal’s iconic steakhouse, Moishes, is bidding goodbye to its home on the Plateau, leaving many steak lovers wondering if Toronto’s steakhouses will possibly face a similar fate. When the 82-year-old classic grilled its final ribeyes at its venerable St-Laurent location in March, little could anybody fathom that this famed steakhouse would not reopen even after restaurant dining gets a government nod to return to business.

For a restaurant that has lived through World War II, a couple of independence plebiscites, not to mention the massive financial crisis of 2008, it’s agonizing to see Moishes crestfallen in the face of the novel coronavirus. However, not all may be lost, at least not just yet.

Going by reports, Lenny Lighter – son of restaurant founder Moishe Lighter, and present corporate director – may have hinted at the possibility of a new location downtown. “I don’t know where. I don’t know when. But we will be back,” he was quoted saying in a recent interview.

He added that the restaurant’s lease was set to expire at the end of December anyway, and they had already acquired a new location somewhere in Victoria Square downtown.

“That was our plan,” he informed. “To stay open, move the restaurant, and continue operations in that new location, but due to COVID, everything fell apart. We had also started construction on the new restaurant.”

Lighter, however, assured that the restaurant is not closing doors forever. The original plan to move to a new location is still in place — just not right now.

“Will there be a vaccine? And will we get back to normal sooner, rather than later? Or will there be a second wave, and will these things be delayed? Nobody knows. With so much uncertainty ahead of us… we’re just going to take the time, and see how things will unfold, when they’ll unfold,” he explained.

While there is no fixed date for its potential return to business, patrons of Moishes can still get their hands on its pre-packaged products in grocery stores and hope for the very best.

The coronavirus has taken its toll on Toronto restaurants and bars as well. The city has witnessed a good number of businesses closing permanently due to the financial strain posed by the pandemic. To date, popular Brant St. steakhouse Jacobs & Co. is still closed for dine-in services, with no set date for reopening to inside diners as of yet.

“It’s so disheartening to hear about Moishes,” said chef Danny McCallum of Jacobs & Co., adding, “It’s a very difficult time for everyone in the restaurant business. It is almost mind boggling how everything changed in a matter of months.”

While Jacobs & Co. is looking at a probable reopening date on Sept. 9, nothing is final yet. “It is a loose estimate of sorts. But if and, when we open, we are going to do so with a limited menu and limited seating. From our capacity to seat 150 people, we will go down to 35. We will see how that works, and take it from there,” McCallum explained.

In the meantime, steak lovers will have to make do with takeout and delivery, it seems.

Article exclusive to TRNTO