There are certain spaces, in tone and design, that invite a sense of ease and familiarity — those spots where you feel comfortable enough to gather friends, meet a colleague, or chat with the barista over breakfast. For the Mile-End, Maison Sociale is set to fulfill this role. Manned with a full drink/coffee bar and kitchen—not to mention an in-house radio booth—this hub creates a neighbourhood bar experience that’s a notch above the ordinary.
The long-awaited gathering place opened its doors at 5386 St Laurent, inviting the city in to see what they think. Warmly designed with orange and green tones, dark wood, and rich upholstery, the café/bar is sun-streamed by day and cozy by night. Visually inspired by Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, the exquisite furnishings built by Marc-Antoine Clément and other curated details give nods to hôtellerie and imply a fresh approach to client experience.
Brainchild of Montreal hospitality king David Schmidt, Maison Sociale comes with the association of contributing partners from a myriad of creative sectors. Each partner is tackling one responsibility in shaping and running the dynamic business. The collective passion, however, is palpable in the space.
With local figures such as Na’eem Adam of Méchant Mangeur, James Benjamin of Breakglass Studios, Chef Tom Allain (previously at Hôtel Herman) and The Main’s own founder Philip Tabah in the mix, the locale’s development is instilled with an awareness of the city’s cultural pulse. Driven by the desire to cultivate a sense of community, its founding members are buzzing with excitement about what newcomers will bring to the table.
Benjamin, tasked with radio station management and programming, sees the channel—to be broadcast online—as “a platform for the community.” The location’s legacy as the iconic Green Room serves as the station’s namesake and a strong motivating factor. With a broad variety of programming lined up, Green Room Radio will serve as a “multi-generational meeting point of all sorts of philosophies and mindsets that exist within the area.” Shows scheduled so far cover a range of genres and content, including slots for various local institutions such as Cult MTL, The Main, AskMen, Bonsound, record label Banko Gotiti, as well as local artists and DJs such as Project Pablo.
More than just a podcast, Green Room Radio’s location inside Maison Sociale pushes the medium to a whole new level of interactivity, according to Benjamin. The programming pays particular attention to time and place and has the potential to interact will all aspects of the venue. A weekly show hosted by a palm-reader may ask for the help of visitors’ hands, for instance, or cooking shows could take on a live aspect with the help of the nearby kitchen.
The interactivity of the space on a whole is one of its most exciting factors, and Maison Sociale’s website offers subscription to their exclusive membership program. While the details of its “perks” remain cloaked with an air of mystery, they will certainly invite a more immersive customer experience. The team hopes to be able to bring the local community together in new ways. Tabah and Clément shared some ideas such as classes on cocktail mixing, cooking, or knife sharpening, as well as pop-up shops and special meal events.
Like its cinematic muse, Maison Sociale has a sense of whimsy in its familiar yet spontaneous nature. Beyond being a good meeting point, “we want people to be able to come alone and hang out,” says Tabah. He references the idea of a maître d’ or concierge, with bar staff that are familiar and personable, understanding what you’re into and catering to it.
Schmidt’s track record, including Maïs, Thazard, Le Mal Nécessaire, Kabinet, and Datcha, promises exciting menus constructed by well-assembled bar and kitchen staff. Christophe Beaudoin Vallières, ex bar chef at Barroco, has brought together a unique night bar vision, while the daytime coffee bar has been transferred from the recently closed café Sardine. A crisp, brand new kitchen shimmers under the space’s back window, with talk of French cuisine and day-to-day eats to go with your coffee.
While the first visit may be one of pure curiosity, the atmosphere in Maison Sociale will likely invite more. The space’s vast day and night offerings reflect and feed off of the diverse needs of its neighbourhood. Manned with a strong cultural vision, this versatile bar may just become your favourite new fixture in the Mile-End.
Disclaimer: Our founder, Philip Tabah, is a partner at Maison Sociale. He had no influence over this article.