Café Olimpico has been a Montreal staple since 1970. Founded by the late Rocco Furfaro, the vibrant café has withstood the test of time and grown to be one of the most popular spots in the city. Now, its owners have decided to open a new location downtown. The original location is found on rue St-Viateur and there is another location in Old Montreal on rue Saint-Vincent. We spoke with Jonathan Vannelli, owner of Olimpico and grandson of Furfano, and he filled us in on what we should expect to see from this much anticipated new location.

The downtown location on Robert Bourassa is being designed by Durbano Design and is said to be “very similar to our other locations” according to Vannelli. He did mention that the bar will be a little different and will possess a more “contemporary yet classic Italia look.”

The traditional Italian theme will consist of walnut wood finishing, white marble counters, and of course, soccer memorabilia, similar to the original location. Vannelli's main goal in the design of each location is to “always capture my grandfather’s original vision — keeping things simple, classic and Italian."

The new property will be about 500 square feet and will have three separate entrances: the main entrance from Robert-Bourassa, the second entrance from KPMG tower and the third will be from the upstairs restaurant Osteria MKT.*

The new Olimpico will house 10-12 seats, one banquette and 3 high tables with barstools to sit. The space will also include a small standing area with a bar. But Vannelli anticipates having “a lot of take-out orders for people on the go."

He hopes to “create a similar vibe” even though it is in a more corporate location. "[Bringing] that neighbourhood feeling to the area” is one of his primary goals.

However, there will be some slight differences at the new location, including the addition of focaccia sandwiches to the menu and, best of all, the acceptance of card payments, unlike the original, cash only rule.

This family business has found so much success and has received a lot of praise throughout the years, which is why I needed to ask Jonathan Vannelli what it is about his coffee that locals and tourists adore.

“It is very simple,” he said, “we have not changed our family recipe in nearly 50 years. It is important for us to consistently serve a high-quality espresso at an affordable price.”

He continued to explain to me the importance of service, stating that it "plays a big part in what Olimpico is all about. We strive [to build] relationships with each customer that walks through the door."

"We want to make people feel welcome and at home when they visit our coffee shop.”

His connection to his late grandfather is evident. “My grandfather had always said that the ultimate goal is to create a sense of community — this is what we hope to achieve at our new downtown location."

We're counting down the days until we can get some Olimpico goodness in the heart of downtown.


*This article has been updated.

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