St-Viateur Bagel was established on May 21, 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Canada in 1953. Lewkowicz spoke of his experience in the Holocaust influencing the opening the shop by stating "At Buchenwald, all I dreamt of was a piece of bread". He also learned the trade as an employee of Montreal Bagel Bakery, another bagel shop owned by Hyman Seligman. Named after the street it is located on, St-Viateur Street, and one of the longest-running bagel shops in Montreal. In 1985 the bagel shop suffered an extensive fire, yet the woodstove remained entirely intact.
St-Viateur Bagel has two bakeries, five bagel cafes, a food truck, the original shop and an online store. Today, the bakery is owned by Joe Morena, who worked at the shop for 15 years, and competes with the nearby Fairmount Bagel for the title of Montreal's best bagel.
In 2017, St-Viateur Bagel celebrates 60 years of baking.
St-Viateur Bagel Shop lies on the border of the Jewish Quarter and the Mile End neighborhood. In addition to St-Viateur Bagel Shop, Montreal's Jewish Quarter is also the home of Schwartz's deli, Moishes Steakhouse, Cheskie's Bakery, and Beauty's Luncheonette. All of these establishments have a large presence in the Jewish community in Montreal. A study done by Université de Montréal explains that the large influence of Jewish food in Montreal culinary culture is likely because of how inexpensive and widely accessible items such as bagels and smoked meat were in Montreal in the early 20th century. This is because there was a large Jewish immigrant population which put down roots along Boulevard St. Laurent. Professor of Theology, Oliver Bauer of Université de Montréal, explains in the study that the roundness of a bagel represents infinity and immortality. It is because of this representation that bagels are often served at a bris ceremonies—the celebration of a baby boy's circumcision—and at shiva gatherings—the house of mourning after a death has occurred.
Since the shop opened in 1957, their process of producing the bagels has stayed true to the original recipe. According to the staff and owner Joe Morena, each bagel is hand rolled individually, boiled in honey water for 30–60 seconds, dipped in seeds, and baked on a long wooden plank in a wood-burning oven. In contrast to the New York-style bagel which contains similar ingredients, the Montreal bagel differs in size, taste, and style. The Montreal bagel tends to be sweeter, thinner, and has a larger hole. The authentic wood-burning oven creates the crispy texture that Montreal bagel lovers appreciate
St-Viateur sells several varieties of Montréal-style bagels including: plain, sesame, poppy, all dressed, whole wheat, cinnamon & raisin, rosemary & seasalt, multigrain, and flax. As well, the website provides nutritional information on each bagel including ingredients and allergens. Each bagel ranges between 200 and 240 calories per 2 servings (1 serving is listed as one half of a bagel). An order of two dozen bagels is priced between $9 and $12 CAD.
In addition to in store and delivery service, St-Viateur offers a catering service with 24 hours' notice. The catering menu includes various options such as smoked salmon platters, cheese platters, and salads. Additionally, a St-Viateur food truck operates exclusively throughout the spring into the fall. The truck is available for bookings for private and corporate events. The shop also offers branded merchandise including T-shirts, tote bags, aprons, pins, key chains, and bread knife. The merchandise is emblazoned with their signature bagel logo. St-Viateur ships bagels nationwide and all over North America.
In the media
The closing of the Monkland Village location of St-Viateur has been widely reported on across Montreal news outlets. In 2019, Christopher Curtis from the Montreal Gazette wrote an article on the permanent closing of the St-Viateur location on Monkland Avenue. The location is reported to close in March 2019 due to a problem re-negotiating the lease with Développement Métro Montreal Corporation. CTV Montreal also discussed its closing and the disappointment of its customers.
In 2018, the Globe and Mail published an article detailing how wood-burning businesses that are unable to meet emission by-law requirements will be forced to switch to gas or electric. The article cited St-Viateur among other traditional bagels shops which will be directly impacted by this development.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to St-Viateur Bagel.|
- Historic Jewish Quarter, Montreal
- Monkland Avenue, location of a branch store
- Fairmount Bagel
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