On the Closing of the Croissanterie

Commercial Chains Leave No Room for Local Businesses in Shaughnessy Village

  • The Croissanterie Linda closed unexpectedly earlier this year. The cafe had been open since 1992. Photo Alex Bailey

Gentrification has long been the main motif for the Shaughnessy Village, the stretch between Atwater St. and Guy St.

Since the ’80s everyone seems to have taken a crack at revamping that area, some with the goal of creating a more neighbourly vibe, others with a more commercial-chic view.

This clash is apparent in the community’s appearance: it’s pretty eclectic. A mix of Asian, Italian, Lebanese, Indian and Korean restaurants, small used books bookstores, local bars, grocery stores (there are three in the span of four blocks) and a sex shop make up the strip on Ste. Catherine St. W. Most are staples, yet many have come and gone.

Such is the case for Croissanterie Linda, the small café on Ste. Catherine St. The Croissanterie was one of those places you either passed every once and a while and wondered if it was any good, or spent hours there a few days a week, chilling and surfing the Internet.

One day, without warning, an “À Louer” sign decorated the window through which the once café‘s emptiness is apparent.

According to Kayla Haines, who works at nearby Mediaphile, that emptiness is precisely why they weren’t making enough profits: because of the low customer turnover, the Croissanterie acted as more of a social hangout than a business.

“It’s so sad, my dad’s been going there for 25 years,” Haines said.

The small business where students appreciated the warm and welcoming atmosphere and low prices as much as they did the free Wi-Fi was run by an elderly man named Eli and his wife.

“I came here and had the breakfast special […]. It was delicious!” one Yelp commenter said. Others mourned the soft-in-the-middle-flaky-on-the-outside homemade croissants, while another admitted that they would never have gone inside if it weren’t for their roommate, but that it was now one of their favourite cafés.

Meanwhile, a new Tim Hortons opened its doors just down the street last summer. With a second location less than a block away, the opening of this Tim Hortons illustrates precisely what’s happening to this neighbourhood and why local businesses can no longer be sustained in the area.

Large companies get more visibility, leading us to overlook the smaller ones and causing rents to rise, meaning that the competition quickly vanishes.

The Faubourg has suffered a similar fate. Being passed from hand to hand, the then-thriving mall’s layout was rearranged to accommodate businesses.

Aside from the food court, Japanese depanneur and video store bearing “Liquidation” signs on its windows (but that’s another story involving Internet killing the video star), the last local business, a homemade bagel shop, also unexpectedly closed its doors recently.

Residents seeking fresh bagels for Sunday brunch must now trek to the Mile End instead of rounding the corner and heading to the Faubourg.

On the other hand, they have access to about four or five pharmacies, two Dollaramas, two Second Cups, three
Tim Hortons and one Canadian Tire within just five blocks. Not to mention the fact that most of theses companies have additional branches less than a 15-minute walk away.

People must make up their minds about whether they want another downtown right next to, well, downtown, or whether they want their neighbourhood back.

Because whatever is going on on Ste. Catherine St. between St. Marc St. and Fort St. (see Station des Sports and Cock n’ Bull) is not working.

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