To summon up one's courage

Fifty years in the restaurant industry is almost an eternity in such a competitive universe, which has been battling all the storms since the start of 2020, with the pandemic, the shortage of workers, galloping inflation and a recession on the 'horizon.

To summon up one's courage

Fifty years in the restaurant industry is almost an eternity in such a competitive universe, which has been battling all the storms since the start of 2020, with the pandemic, the shortage of workers, galloping inflation and a recession on the 'horizon.

Chez Lévêque, a famous address on Laurier Street in Outremont, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the most difficult context it has experienced since its opening. Its owners, Patricia and Pierre Lévêque, still have their hearts set on celebrating, like their customers, too happy to find this beloved restaurant that has hosted all the celebrities over the years, from Isabelle Adjani to Gérard Depardieu, from René Lévesque to Luc Plamondon, via François Legault.

“Life is together! And people are happy to come back, ”says the energetic Patricia, who deploys all her energy to bring beautiful moments to life. Take outs, yes, it's still possible in 2022, but that's not the driving force behind Chez Lévêque, a gathering place.

A diverse team

With her team, Patricia plays creatively to limit price increases on the menu. The pandemic has sent wages skyrocketing, and the cost of food is dizzying.

"We can't increase the prices of endless menus, otherwise the clientele will leave," she says.

Being the owner of the building is a definite asset today to control costs.

The owners are no longer very young; she is 65 years old and her husband is 77, but they are still very present and above all well surrounded with Yann, head waiter, loyal right-hand man, and Yolando and Freddy in the kitchen, not to mention a diversified team of all ages, who respects the DNA of the place.

“Nevertheless, Quebec would have to move to bring in immigrants. We really need it! It is important for the economy of Quebec, ”pleads the restaurateur.

Her own husband immigrated from France at the age of 18, and he was already an ace cook.

I want to say that Pierre and Patricia have done much more than contribute to our economy for 50 years. They have enriched the culinary heritage, they have communicated pleasure, passion, traditions, know-how. It can't be calculated, but it counts!

The future of catering

How do you stay relevant for 50 years? This is perhaps the biggest challenge. We are getting older, but you have to keep up with the times and have enough energy for the self-questioning that brings about changes in decor and refreshed menus. You have to constantly evolve, keeping your personality to avoid becoming part of a passing trend. Chez Lévêque has succeeded in this.

The future ? It is a horizon that is now contemplated one day at a time for Patricia. Yann, his butler, doesn't want it to end, so as long as the Lévêques can, they will continue the adventure.

“Actually, I don’t want to stop! It keeps us alive! My husband, he was at the restaurant this morning, he was eating with friends. It's good for morale and, deep down, I don't believe in retirement! exclaims Patricia.

PROFILE OF PATRICIA LÉVÊQUE

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