The Verrillo family revamps a bar in Villeray
While Le 1370 Bar Villeray may be a new project for the Verrillo family, the resto-bar business isn’t. Pasquale “Pat” Verrillo has been in the business for over 40 years. Starting at 12 years old, he worked in the reception hall of a church as a waiter. The now 62-year-old has since worked his way up and has owned eight bars and restaurants—or a combination of the two—both in Montreal and Italy.
The building’s owner reached out to the Verrillo’s when the previous owners abandoned the bar last August. “It was kind of a dump,” said Damiano, one of Pat’s two sons. “There was garbage everywhere, the basement was dirty. It was a ‘what are we getting ourselves into?’ kind of thing. But after a couple of days of cleaning, we really saw the potential in the place.”
Once they got the keys, the process of tearing it down and building it back up to the family’s taste began. Pat opened the doors to Le 1370 Bar Villeray (located at, you guessed it, 1370 Villeray St.) for the first time Wednesday, March 27, along with his sons, Damiano and Daniel. In Pat’s words: “It was an expected one.”
“This was a place that was very dear to my heart because I used to hang around here and I grew up two streets away,” Pat said about the bar, which was called Le Taverne Villeray back in the day. “When I was younger, I used to sit at a table—that table right there,” he continued, motioning to a table a few feet away. “Not exactly that one, but that’s the spot.”
Despite it being a big project to take on, it’s nothing new for the Verrillo family. “Every year, we give ourselves a project, whether it’s renovations in our house or something exterior, and I guess this year, this was our project,” said Damiano.
The bar now has a cozy, ambient atmosphere, and a whole new design. The tiled ceiling is covered in painted red roses, and the middle section is a square of ultra-glossy black ceramic tiles. All the walls are painted black, but a wall of windows facing the street is perfect for summer and will add another element to the bar’s ambiance.
“It was a bond between myself, my father and my brother,” said Daniel, in regards to taking on this project. Daniel was able to work with his family and finally experience what his dad has been doing for decades, so he said the project meant a lot to him. “What’s different about this is that we got to experience […] this business with him,” said Daniel, comparing it to the stories Pat would tell him about the resto-bar business.
As a carpenter, Daniel was a big part of the hands-on side of the project, adding wood touches to bring out a rustic feel. Eclectic by nature, the bar is also a cool spot to hang out, watch sports, play pool, and jam to live music or the variety of music booming through the speakers.
“We are going to try to do things that other bars don’t do. We are going to do comedy nights, game nights, Latino nights—different events to get different types of people to come here,” said Damiano. “Everyone is welcome to come.” In particular, they hope to cater to young people by implementing a student discount, seeing as Damiano is a student himself and it’s the first thing he asks when he’s out in the city.
“People were more excited for [the bar] to be opened again. For most of the locals here, this was their main bar,” said Damiano. “People got used to the place, so when it just closed unexpectedly, a lot of them were like ‘where do we go now?’”
While helping out with renovations at the bar, Damiano is also completing an undergraduate degree in economics at Concordia, as well as holding down a job. “I don’t really have that stay-at-home-all-day day off. I always lived by ‘If you want something in life, you have to put the effort in,’ no matter where you start or what age you’re at.”
“It’s the beginning of our rodeo and we’re going to try to make this work and that’s it,” said Daniel. While it may be the beginning of this rodeo, it’s surely not their first.
For more information about theme nights or events visit Le 1370 Bar Villeray’s website.