Friday 18 October 2013

Dic Ann's opens first ever "hamburger emporium" in downtown Montreal

Dic Ann’s, the storied hamburger chain which was launched by the husband and wife team of Dick Potenza and Ann Collechia nearly 60 years ago, officially opened its first ever downtown  location on  St. Catherine Street near Forte Avenue on October 15. When I visited the place at noon on day three of the new operation, lineups were out the door already. Lloyd Brown, who brought us the first NDG Dic Ann’s on St. Jacques seven years ago, initiated the “Centre Ville” project as well. That now makes 15 Dic Ann’s restaurants in the  Greater Montreal area. Marché Central and the Old Port (a food truck) were added to the mix last summer.
Lloyd Brown at the new locale.

In a few short weeks, Brown will make an unprecedented announcement where Dic Ann’s Centre Ville is concerned. Let’s just say that there will be something added to the offerings that no fast food hamburger spot has done here before.

First of all, what a superb location this is.  This was once a pet store. Located right across the street from LaSalle College and only blocks away from both Dawson College and Concordia University, this is already attracting a strong youth clientele.  However, the area itself has recently been rejuvenated and there is a lot of traffic from shoppers and  businesses. As he did on St. Jacques, Brown has installed one of his Bonatarte dessert emporiums here featuring great pies, pastries, cupcakes, brownies,  smoothies, bubble tea, milkshakes and a full coffee bar. A small breakfast menu will be introduced soon.
Lineups already at the new locale.

There are 40 seats in the new location (and 40 ready for a terrasse next summer), which is a mixture of old (retro) and new décor. Above the  traditional menu, featuring  pricing for the famous burgers, hotdogs, poutine and fries are LCD panels. Brown has even installed thematic tables: four for  sports (Impact, Expos, Canadiens, Alouettes), three for entertainment (Jazz and Just For Laughs Festivals and the Grand Prix; two of Dic Ann’s nostalgia; and one for La Place (the electronics store Brown ran for years on St. Laurent Blvd.

I do tend to be in this area often and its is great to have an alternative to McDonald’s.  Dic Ann’s the trademark flat hamburger patties are made fresh each morning from 100 percent beef and of course there is the famous hot sauce to look forward to.
Pasquale Massa waits on his order.

I saw several recognizable faces when I was there, including the owner of Côte Saint-Luc’s highly popular Quality Fruits store, Pasquale Massa. He has known Brown for years  and carries Bonatarte products.
A delicious order of a burger and fries.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Where will P.F.Chang's expand to next? Edmonton gets the nod

There are now three P.F. Chang’s  China Bistro locations in Canada: one in Toronto and two in the Montreal area. I have had the good fortunate of dining in all three –Toronto last winter, the Decarie Rue des Jockeys spot near the former Blue Bonnets a few times and the other at Carrefour Laval once. I grew to love this chain when travelling in the United States and I thank businessman Michael Aronovici and his partners for bringing the concept to our country.

P.F. Chang's is an international brand that features a unique dining experience within an elegant, contemporary and family-friendly setting.  With over 230 restaurants globally, each P.F. Chang's restaurant is a culinary journey inspired by the cuisine of the five regions of China, from Mongolia and Sichuan, to Beijing, Shanghai and Hunan.  Each restaurant also features a variety of signature cocktails and unique desserts. 

P.F. Chang's menu items are cooked-to-order in traditional Chinese woks, using only the freshest ingredients delivered to the restaurant every day.   The won ton and egg drop soups are traditional starters. But the chicken lettuce wraps remain the true signature dish. The Mongolian beef, crispy honey shrimp and chicken and double pan-fried noodles are house favorites.
The famous chicken lettuce wraps.

So where will the expansion go next? I contacted  director of operations Cary Mausner who  confirmed that the gigantic West Edmonton Mall will have one for September 2014. That is likely to be followed by Vancouver in the winter of 2015 and a second Toronto spot in the spring of 2015. Newfoundland was originally part of the plan has well, but seems to be off the table for now. As for Montreal, there is no talk now about the West Island, the South Shore of downtown joining the group.

We had an amazing dining experience at the Rue des Jockeys location on the occasion of a family member’s birthday. Our waiter, Christian, incidentally was superb and operating partner Louie Mercuri is hands on at this 280 seat two level establishment.