Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adieu Murray's Restaurant

The last Murrays restaurant (or Eatery) as the Gazette puts it,.is set to close up shop. I know many of our members Remember Murray's and some of them worked in them ( My Mother did too,when she was young) Here's the story from the Gazette today:


In its heyday, there were Murray's restaurants in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto packing in diners, happy to chow down on meatloaf, Jell-O and other comfort foods.

But yesterday the hand-written sign in the window of the last remaining Murray's restaurant, in the Lucerne Shopping Centre in Town of Mount Royal, seemed to indicate the end may be near for the chain, which got its start in 1923.

It read: "Closed for renovations and maintenance."

Since the Murray's restaurant on Sherbrooke St. W. in Westmount closed in 1999, the Murray's eatery in the unassuming T.M.R. strip mall has been the last one standing in the city.

Now, Mounir Yassa, the owner of the T.M.R. Murray's, said he can't carry on and he may have to close, too.

Since 2007, when he bought the restaurant from brothers Peter and Shrief Nasr, Yassa said, he has lost more than $150,000 - an average of between $8,000 and $12,000 a month.

"I know the story," Yassa said. "I've tried to keep it going for these reasons, but I can't put anything more into it."

Yassa, who operated the restaurant with his wife, Alyce, and daughter Sylvia, said he is in negotiations with a potential buyer, "someone who wants to buy it and change everything inside."

"I should know by Friday," Yassa said.

But even with a new buyer, there may be another hitch that could stand in the way and yet spell the end of the Murray's franchise.

In 2007, the strip mall was purchased with another building and lot in the area by First Capital Holdings Corp. for $16.5 million.

Margo Schieke, a mall administrator, said the present restaurant owner has a seven-year lease with First Capital, but it may not be transferrable.

"It's sad," said Robert Maroun, owner of Mes Yeux, Tes Yeux, an optometrist in the Lucerne Shopping Mall.

Over the years, Maroun said, he has marvelled at Murray's loyal customers, people like Madeleine Boosamra, a T.M.R. nonagenarian who until recently ate three times a day at the restaurant.

"Every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner, she was there," Maroun said. "When I think of Murray's, these are the people I think of.

"But demographically, it's over for Murray's."



Robin Turner said...

I remember this Murrays restaurant very well. I worked at Robin Hood Flour when they had their main office on the second floor of the Lucerne shopping centre. A bunch of us would go regularly to Murrays - not so much for lunch but for Break times. We all thought that their Mary Anne cake with blueberry compote and ice cream was the best treat ever. Murrays also had an arrangement with Murrays where a lady with a big coffee urn on a cart would walk through the office twice a day selling coffee and tea - no food though. That's why we had to go there to get the goodies.



Les F said...

Neat recall there Robin,Thanks for the input,.I think one of our members or a couple of them worked for Murray's (but that may have been on the old site,I can't remember) I know we have posted a few photo's over time showing the StCatherine Street Murray's.........I will try to find them & post them again........ HF&RV

George Spencer said...

Hello All,

I started working for Murray's Restaurant on Sherbrook street in Westmount in 1964 as a bus boy. I worked my way up to the steam table and short order cook, also filling in at the different locations as well... Sun Life cafeteria, St Catherine street location as well as the West Sherbrook location near Cavendish.
This was the best job of my life.... as far as people and atmosphere. Hard to believe for $0.90 per hour then on to $1.10, 48 hous per week plus overtime, was offered second chef at $1.25 per hour! They deducted $0.70 per day for 3 meals. The food was great!
Girl friends to remember was Maria Matta also Lorraine Chislette, Both worked for Murray's Restaurant as well.
The manager Mr. Noseworthy was a great manager. The chef was Andre Legault, the night chef was Mike Panagopoulous.
I left in 1968, my family moved to Vancouver BC.
Does anyone remember any of the other staff?

Cheers George

Steve Gladwish said...

My dad worked across the street at alan singers used to eat there at that time