Serre Picasso’s, the iconic 24-hour N.D.G greasy spoon, is undergoing massive renovations with plans to reopen later this year.
And some Montrealers couldn’t be happier.
Giuliana Cucinelli, an instructor at Concordia’s Communications Department founded a Facebook group to call for the restaurant’s reopening. “When Picasso suddenly closed its doors last year, I was heartbroken,” said Cucinelli, whose group gained 150 members within minutes.
The restaurant has been out of business since last February, when the then-owners closed it down. The location’s owner, Peter Sergakis, announced plans to reopen it late last year. While he had previously announced hopes for it to be open in the first half of 2010, he said he could not say whether that would be the case anymore.
Picasso’s will now be run by Sergakis himself. The massive renovations are estimated to cost between $3 million and $5 million. The plans involve overhauling the interior and exterior of the building, bringing in all new equipment, tearing down and replacing the solarium and expanding the seating capacity to about 600 people.
Sergakis said he had no choice but to revamp the building. “The building was almost obsolete now. And you have to do it. Today there’s so much competition in the restaurant business,” he said.
Picasso’s, located on St. Jacques St., became renowned to Montrealers and N.D.G-ers for huge breakfasts offered at all hours, and its simple fare, like pizzas, smoked meat and submarines. The location and hours meant it played host to a varied clientele 8212; families during the day, a variety of strippers and patrons from the bar next door, taxi drivers, and late-night revellers returning home from downtown. Despite the costs, Sergakis was adamant neither the menu nor the atmosphere would change.
“My goal is to keep a place where everyone feels welcome. It’s not going to be high class. If you do it too high class you scare the people away. There’s still going to be the all-day breakfast, the delicatessen, the same style menu. And we’re going to keep it inexpensive,” said Sergakis, who owns several bars and properties around Montreal. He said the reason for taking it over and re-opening it was because of the huge outcry that stemmed from its unexpected closure.
Cucinelli’s Facebook group is a testament to that outcry.
“Picasso’s transformed people once they walked in,” Cucinelli said, “and it didn’t matter if your collar was blue or white, or if you were wearing construction clothing, or a gown. All that mattered was how hungry you were.”
Chris Gray, another Picasso fan, also shared his memories. “It was a great place to go after pay-per events at [nearby bar] PJ’s or after drinking. And, of course, I used to work at the Rose Bowl Lanes, so I often went there when everything else was closed.”