The Real Story Behind Montreal's St-Viateur Bagel Shop
One of the city's oldest and most famous institutions.
I think, at this point, we all know about how awesome Montreal bagels are. There's nothing like a Montreal bagel, and a huge part of what makes our bagels so great is the rich history behind the dish.
In Montreal, there are two main spots to get your authentic bagel fix: Fairmount Bagel Shop, or St-Viateur.
Both are located in the Mile End and named after the streets they're on. Both serve up delicious, fresh bagels baked on-site in a wood-burning oven.
And both have achieved institution status in Montreal, partially because of their delicious food, and partially because of the legit staying power both spots have.
St-Viateur (263 Rue Saint Viateur O), for example, has been in Montreal for over 50 years. Yes, guys, you read that right: this shop has been serving up fresh, hot bagels for more than half a century.
But that's not the only impressive fact about St-Viateur.
The shop was actually opened in 1957, by a man named Myer Lewkowicz.
Myer was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, who was invited to come to Canada in 1952 after being found by Jewish Immigration Aid Services of Canada. Before that, Myer spent time in a concentration camp; according to Myer, during that time, "all [he] dreamt of was a piece of bread".
St-Viateur Bagel was founded by Myer after nearly half a decade of learning the trade as an employee of Montreal Bagel Bakery, another bagel shop owned by Hyman Seligman.
Myer ran St-Viateur until his death in 1994, even seeing the shop through a huge fire (and re-opening) in 1985.
In 1994, ownership passed on to Joe Morena, who had worked at the shop since he was 15. In 1974, he became part-owner of the bagel shop, and after Myer's passing, he brought in Marco Sbaino as his business partner.
Since then, St-Viatuer has been a family business, full of tradition and history.
They've expanded to tons of bagel cafes throughout the city (including in Monkland and DDO), but they're still selling fresh, hand-made bagels from their original 24/7 location in the Mile End. So, St-Viateur, keep doing you, because you're awesome.