From The Gazette

Dollard des Ormeaux

St. Viateur bagels now being made in Dollard

  • Brothers Nicolo and Vince Morena with their father Joe at their new West Island location of St. Viateur Bagel in Dollard des Ormeaux on Nov. 7.
    Brothers Nicolo and Vince Morena with their father Joe at their new West Island location of St. Viateur Bagel in Dollard des Ormeaux on Nov. 7.
    Photo credit: John Mahoney, The Gazette

Montreal’s legendary St. Viateur bagel shop has opened a Dollard-des-Ormeaux outlet where the bagels are being baked in a hybrid gas-burning oven that complies with the suburb’s regulations on the use of new wood-burning devices.

Since opening Oct. 31, four bakers have been turning out close to 500 dozen bagels a day in the West Island location using an wide-mouthed oven that is fuelled by 20 per cent wood and 80 per cent gas in order to meet low-emission standards for wood-burning appliances.

But even though the oven is primarily fired by gas, the owners say, their new bagel shop on Tecumseh St. at Brunswick Blvd. will carry on the storied Montreal tradition that dates back to 1957, when founder Myer Lewkowicz opened the city’s first St. Viateur Bagel at 263 St. Viateur St. West.

“We are our own toughest critics,” said co-owner Vince Morena, on Tuesday, as he showed off the new bakery-café he has opened with brothers, Nick and Robert.

“No one knows the flavour of our bagel better than us,” Morena added.

“I’ve probably made a million bagels, just myself,” he said. “My father is way over two million,” he said, referring to his father, Joe Morena, who started in the business at age 13.

After testing several gas-burning prototypes, he said, the family is satisfied with the oven they found. He said bagels made at the Dollard shop will pass the test with West Islanders who now travel downtown to get their bagel fix — or bagel lovers out-of-province.

Bagels made in Dollard will be available in Sobey’s stores in Atlantic Canada and in Ontario, at Highland Farms and Metro stores.

“We’ve had good reception, so far,” he said, stuffing a dozen white seed bagels in a paper bag.

There has been no change to the recipe, the bagel’s faintly smokey flavour or their price, $7.25 a dozen, he noted. But the road to the shop’s opening has been a long one.

It was three years ago that he first spotted the West Island location. Immediately, he said, he thought it was an ideal base for a larger operation, where up to 700 dozen bagels a day could be produced and hundreds of dozens more could be stored in freezers, awaiting out-of-province delivery.

But when the city of Dollard refused to grant a permit to put a traditional wood-burning oven in the 6,500-square-foot building, he said, the project was delayed until they could find an alternative oven.

In 2011, he said, they finally found a company in Seattle, Washington, that could make the hybrid oven they needed. “It’s a first of its kind,” he said.

In January, the city gave them the go-ahead to open “a retail food store for specialized products” and, soon after, work began in renovating the space.

On Tuesday, Morena said, it was worth all the effort. He said he hasn’t even advertised yet. He’s been waiting to get things up and running smoothly before holding an “official opening.” But word has spread.

About a dozen workers were perched on stools eating bagel lunches in the storefront café. There was a lineup at the retail counter just in front of the oven.
One baker was busy twisting dough into bagels — one after another. And another baker was taking golden brown bagels out of the oven on the wooden paddle.

“I was thrilled when I saw it,” said Judy Oke, a Dorval resident who was ordering a dozen bagels. She said she happened upon it by chance. “This is my second time in the past week.” She said the bagels were as good as the ones downtown — and closer.

Another woman in the lineup, Diane Provost, said she has come three times in the past week. She runs a group home in Pierrefonds for five handicapped adults. “They love the bagels,” she said. “They seem to put a smile on everyone’s face.”

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com

8 comments

  1. This is all well and good but neither the Gazette nor St. Viateur Bagel’s website bothered to enlighten the masses as to WHERE exactly this new bakery can be found. “Dollard” seems a bit vague.

    • You have no idea where those bagels ended up after this photo set up.
      It was a Photo Set UP! CUT SOME SLACK with this gloves are clean attitude.
      You have to see careful the counter people with handling bagels and the fine sandwiches
      prepared there.

  2. I have a very good and Reliable source inside St-viateur that told me they opened in DDO because they have a lot of bagels to make to be shipped to US and they tried to buy st-jean bagels and the bagel shop on Sources blvd for the past 3 years. When they couldnt get their hands on the Traditional wood burning oven they made up a story of this so called Hybrid oven and teeteee teee tatata. a freaking tuna sandwich combo is $15. the most expensive bagels in the west island and i went there 3 times and the worst taste ever. Greed took over their judgment. If I was them i would never expand if you cant keep the tradition. Learn from Fairmount Mr vince.
    P.S: Vince never worked in his life at the oven and he knows nothing about baking. LOL a million?

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