Sunday, 12 September 2010

Places I love - Café Santropol

Good morning my dear friends!

As second post of the series, I wish to introduce you to a Café where I love to go when I am craving for a heavenly delicious sandwich without making it by myself...

Café Santropol proves that even small businesses can have a large impact. The opening of the hippy-dippy restaurant, 34 years ago, was mainly to stop a block of buildings on St. Urbain Street from being demolished. The facts are that, in the mid-seventies, many of the row houses in the immediate area of Montreal's first hospital (Hotel Dieu hospital, founded in 1645 by an order of nuns) had been demolished. And the block of buildings at the corner of St. Urbain and Duluth streets was next.

Gilker, a man living on the upstair flat of one of these buildings, decided to take over the first floor for an extra raise of his rent, although he was already indebted, because he figured that a building with a on going concern in it would be harder to tear down than an unoccupied one.

He cleaned the premises, pending an idea to come to him for knowing how to use them. The winter passed by, In the meantime, he was scrounging the alleys for discarded furniture. And it occured to be all clear by the spring of 1976. This part of the city has always had a large student population, because of the two universities close by. The area was ripe for restaurants. But still indebted, Gilker couldn't even afford to put in a grill or any other usual kitchen equipment. Thus, he decided to have a menu made with stuff that didn't require cooking: sandwiches, salads and soups. The bakers of the neighborhood were bringing desserts, quiches and bread.

Café Santropol, wearing rather eclectic furniture picked up here and there in the neighboring streets, then became known as a quirky restaurant with a simple menu and a comfortable decor.

Gilker admit that the business sense was the last thing his two partners and him learned, and one of them declared: "It took five or six years before we could really pay the bills. We sold some stuff for years at less than cost and didn't know it."

As the café became established, the threat of demolition receded. The block of housing became a co-operative. The restaurant has been expanded in 2003, and now accommodates about 50 people. The beautiful garden they have added behind the building has been voted best terrace in Montreal many times over by alternative newspapers. When weather permitting, an additionnal 30 people can sit there, amongst a wide variety of wild flowers and indigenous plants, under the trees, or around the fish pond.

Today, the Café still makes its own bread and grow its own sprouts that goes into their delicious sandwiches and decorate the plates.

Thank you, Café Santropole, for welcoming people with so much love! Paying me a visit to your restaurant, always make me feel so good!

A recommendation for my friends: bring your own container and take the sandwich to go! The Café is close by the pretty and big Jeanne-Mance park and the Mount Royal park, wich one I'll introduce to you into a next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment