The ever-expanding Montreal coffee scene took another big leap this week with the opening of Myriade Club Monaco, the third café from renowned owner Anthony Benda. After the original Myriade near Concordia University, and Myriade Mile End in the city’s “hippest” neighborhood, this new café is located right downtown on the busiest section of the busiest commercial street in Montreal—rue Sainte-Catherine.
It’s Benda’s most ambitious project to date. Although he has previously worked on a “shared space” business—the Mile End café splits a locale with the men’s fashion store Savoie Fils—this barista-turned-businessman recognizes that dealing with a large international company is quite different.
“They approached me, talking about the possibility of doing something like they did with Toby’s Estate on 5th Avenue in Manhattan,” explained Benda on opening day. “At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I couldn’t have asked for a more harmonious collaboration. They had done their homework; they knew about us and about Montreal. When I came up with a list of suppliers for the café, they approved everything.”
“They let us control the café side of the business, right down to the layout of the workspace, but their involvement has allowed us to do much more with design and decoration. It’s certainly the most beautiful café I’ve been associated with,” said Benda.
The new Myriade takes up the entire back space of the ground floor of the new Club Monaco store on Ste-Catherine, and the café can be accessed via a separate entrance, allowing it to open earlier than the clothing store.
“For us, it’s an incredible opportunity to expand downtown, where thousands of people work and shop every day,” says Benda, who shares the venture with associates Sarah Smith, a longtime collaborator who will be very involved day to day, and Richard Baghdadlian. “This kind of business let us concentrate on what we like to do, which is serving the best coffee that we can make.”
Back to the coffee. Myriade’s regulars will recognize the Kees Van der Westen Spirit espresso custom made for the café. “[Kees] surpasses himself with this one,” says Benda of the machine. “There are four pumps in there and I can obtain three different pressures on each head. That allows me a great flexibility and saves us a lot of time.”
Originally from British Columbia, Benda has developed a strong relationship with Vancouver’s 49th Parallel roasters. “Our staff knows their products very well and we wanted to start out the new café with them. We will probably offer other roasters’ products in the future, as we do at our other café on Mackay Street.”
The new Myriade also promotes local products of quality from Hof Kelstein and Patisserie Rhubarbe bakeries, Société-Orignal, and St.Leons Maple Syrup. And like in Club Monaco's 5th Avenue store in New York City, there is a little bookshop, this time with a selection from Mile-End’s Drawn and Quarterly library.
Always putting passion first, Benda has surrounded himself with a team of well-trained baristas from other Myriade locations and Montreal cafés, along with newcomers who are simply ready to work hard and to learn. On the home page of the Myriade web site, a simple question: “How is your coffee today?”—reminds us of that passion.
Benda and his team don’t like to be labeled as a “Third-Wave” coffee shop. “There are no ‘egos’ here, as we all put the customers first in our business. And in a place like this one, I feel that customers will be well served.”