As the legendary Dic Ann's hamburger chain prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary, something unprecedented has occurred at its still relatively new Centre Ville location on St. Catherine Street near Forte Avenue. On Friday, February 21 this locale became the first known fast food restaurant in Canada to get a liquor license and sell beer.
Businessman Lloyd Brown, who opened the first NDG Dic Ann’s on St. Jacques Street in 2006, is the “Centre Ville” franchisee. After many months of careful planning, he got the blessing of the Dic Ann's family to take this step. There are five brands of beer for sale, all from the Molson label: Molson '67; Molson Export; Coors Light; Rickard's Red; and Heineken.
Dominic “Dick” Potenza and his wife Ann Collecchia,launched the storied franchise. Together, they envisioned a fast food restaurant that would serve an original style hamburger with their own special sauce. After much thought, this original style hamburger took the form of a toasted bun containing a thin patty that would cook quickly. After they modified and combined two recipes that they brought with them from the States Dick and Ann developed their famous hot sauce. The first locale in 1954 was a shack on the corner of Cremazie and Papineau Two years later they moved to larger premises in Montreal North. There are now 13 Dic Ann's properties in the Greater Monteal, North and South Shore areas plus two food trucks: one stationed seasonly at the Vieux Port and another about to be introduced soon for events and festivals.
A third generation is now running Dic Ann's: Anthony Zammit and Delbina Potenza, grandchildren of the founders. I caught up with Zammit, 28, at the Centre-Ville location. He made it clear that this is the only franchise right now with a liquor license. "For us to incorporate beer 60 years after our establishment is a big change," he said. "If you are a beer drinker like me, our special sauce really compliments the beer taste. It really complements the spice."
Zammit, who oversees franchise development, said that he will be watching this pilot project closely to see if the format would work at new stores in the future.
Brown said the response has already been very positive. He will place beer for signs on the wall behind the cash and the front windows shortly. They will also be shown on the large TV menu, sandwiched between the menu boards.
At both the NDG and Centre-Ville locations, the Dic Ann's restaurants are twinned with Brown's Bonatarte dessert emporiums.