- A now-viral open letter from a former Thursday's Montreal employee to her employer details her experience at the resto-bar and her dismay at its sudden closure at the beginning of January.
- We spoke to the employee about the news and her plans for the future.
Thursday's, a renowned Montreal institution, shuttered its doors forever last week — one day after New Year's Eve. Montrealers had overwhelmingly negative reactions to the news, calling out Thursday's Montreal management for its actions and bemoaning the loss of another huge rue Cresent bar. Reportedly, over 100 employees were suddenly without a job. On social media, many locals specifically expressed their dismay at the human cost of Thursday's closure.
Former Thursday's employee, Chloé Ratté, shared her and her former colleagues' frustrations with the management in an open letter posted to her personal Facebook page late last week.
Her letter details the shock and disappointment that she and her former colleagues felt after suddenly losing their jobs via a "hastily typed email sent from an iPhone," according to Ratté.
Ratté specifically calls out Thursday's owner Chris-Ann Nakis. Nakis is the daughter of legendary Montreal restauranteur Paul Nakis.
The family has owned half of Schwartz's, Da Giovanni, Chez Parée, the Sir Winston Churchill complex, and two Baton Rouge franchises.
"Despite the fact that Thursday's closing was sudden and surprising, your handling of the situation [Ms. Nakis] was as pathetic as it was predictable," writes Ratté.
"Too bad this entrepreneurial lesson will have cost the salaries of employees, some of whom have worked for the establishment for more than thirty years."
Ratté also expresses regret that the Thursday's staff didn't have an opportunity to say goodbye to customers, some of whom were so regular that employees would "put their favourite drinks in front of their usual seats as they walk through the door."
"On behalf of all the staff at Thursday's bistro-bar and club, we are sorry that we didn't have the opportunity to have a nightcap with you, dear customers."
Thursday's sudden closure comes over one year after the Ragueneau family sold the business to the Nakis Group with the understanding that it would also purchase the property, reports the CBC.
But that deal fell through in late-2018, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Paul Nakis stated that it later became clear the business wasn't tenable.
The now-empty Thursday's Bar sits on a highly visible stretch of rue Cresent.
The Ragueneau family told the Gazette that the site might now be destroyed to make way for a condo development, local preservation laws permitting.
MTL Blog tried to get in touch with Thursday's management for comment on the closure as well as Ratté's letter but we have yet to receive a response.
We spoke to Ratté, author of the open letter and former Thursday's employee to get her perspectives on what it was like to work at the bar and what her next steps are.
Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
How was your experience of working at Thursday's?
My experience at Thursday's was always enjoyable up until last year. The new management didn't quite respect traditions, the history, and the ambiance of the place and we were noticing that business was down the last few months.
It was getting hard for us to justify all the changes with the customers cause we didn't agree either. They would still come as a habit and we kept working there cause we were so attached to the place but the staff or the customers knew it wasn't the same.
Was there any clue that the bar would be closing?
Now that we look back on it, there were a few hints that gave us a clue that things weren't going as good as planned. Then again, you never expect an institution to close down.
Managers were unaware of everything that was going on and were always given reasons by the owners to justify all the changes.
Price increases, changes in the menu, happy hour items restricted, alcohol orders not coming in on time, for instance.
What’s your next step? Are you trying to find a new job?
The next step is to all find new jobs. As much as the restaurant business is criticized, we're in fact all super close and ready to help out one another when needed. A few restaurants already reached out to all of us.
Working in Montreal's restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart and unfortunately, Thursday's likely won't be the only establishment that will close its doors forever.
Though the sudden job loss would make anyone stressed out, Ratté and her former colleagues are taking it in stride. They are disappointed, to be sure, but hopeful for the future.
"My colleagues are great employees. I'm not worried. They will all find a job very soon and I'm happy better employers will get to work with them in the near future," says Ratté.