Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten

Montreal proves it's possible to turn uninspiring shopping malls into something exciting

Place Ville Marie in Montreal is a historic, massive real estate complex that has been serving the downtown core for more than 50 years. 

It includes five office towers, an underground shopping centre, an indoor parking garage open 24/7 and an outdoor public plaza called the Esplanade. 

In recent years, the complex underwent a major transformation and a new food hall in the Esplanade has succeeded in becoming a downtown culinary destination — proving that anything old can be made new again. 

In 2017, Canadian real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge launched a major project at Place Ville Marie with an investment of over $1 billion to rejuvenate much of the complex, including the Esplanade. 

The project, which was designed by Montreal firms Sid Lee Architecture and Menkès Shooner Dagenais Létourneux Architectes, was completed not long ago and opened its doors to the public in January. 

Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten formally opened its 35,000-sq. ft. food court in the Esplanade of Place Ville Marie on January 23, and the new downtown space offers three full-service restaurants, nine food kiosks, two cafés with a total of 1000 seats and a biergarten. 

The biergarten is located under an all-glass roof that helps infuse the space with natural light.

"When we were invited to completely rethink the Place Ville Marie food hall, grand architectural gestures had been evoked in order to give downtown residents and workers a new gathering space," said Alexandre Besnard, creator of  Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten.

"That’s what inspired us to create a warm and welcoming space where people would want to go back again and again, to take advantage of an enhanced, varied and affordable food and drink offering. This led us to seek out collaborators who could satisfy a wide range of discerning tastes with popular – yet accessible – concepts."

More than 2,000 people showed up for the grand opening of Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten, and its success so far is evidence that with the right kind of rejuvenation, any space can be transformed into a new-and-improved destination. 

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