Businesses in CSL

Raffi has left the building: iconic service station in Côte Saint-Luc is closed for good

It is a very sad day in Côte Saint-Luc as Raffi Abikian has closed his service station at the corner of Westminster and Guelph Road for good.

After nearly 30 years serving the community, Raffi has reluctantly merged all operations to his NDG service station/body shop. He is hoping to implement  a shuttle service. When I stopped by to see him, he promised me a full interview in January when all of the facts can be placed on the table. Let’s just say that Sobeys, the owners of the property, made the decision which results in  Côte Saint-Luc losing our last surviving service station. It is a huge loss, not to mention an inconvenience to all of us.

Raffi is a friend to all of his clients. When you bring your car for a checkup and he notices something that is wrong, you randomly ask if he will remember the situation weeks or months later. “It is all in the computer,”  he says, pointing to his head.

Raffi is honest, always looking to save the client a buck. “You do not need new tires,” he’d tell me. “I will find you barely used ones.”

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Raffi departs his second home for the past three decades.

 

My 15 year old Toyota is still on the road strictly because of Dr.  Raffi. He took this dying patient and brought it back to life.

Raffi  wishes to advise all of his clients that they will be serviced at his NDG location, expertly managed by George Soulahian. More details are to follow.,

 Not too many years ago our community had Pneus Experts and Canadian Tire at then called Cavendish Mall, which serviced cars and Bernie’s on Côte Saint-Luc Road. The first two shut down and Bernie’s relocated.

When Shell opened a self-serve gas station, complete with a car wash and a depanneur, the future of Raffi’s was questioned.  Shell is owned by Sobeys. Originally Raffi owned a station further down Westminister, closer to Montreal West,

“We started from scratch when we opened our first garage and built our client list,” says Raffi. “Then, we had the opportunity to get this location, so we took it.”

Raffi’s son Ari, a very polite young man, is part of his talented and devoted team of mechanics.

As a member of city council, I am anxious to learn more about the Sobeys decision. Will they apply for a permit to sell the land for  housing? I would prefer the return of a service station.

Stay tuned to this space in January!

 


First ever kosher Tim Hortons to open in Côte Saint-Luc

Huge news from the City of Côte Saint-Luc and our Aquatic and Community Centre

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and council will formally announce today that the first ever all kosher Tim Hortons will open at the ACC. It will be part of a brand new structure built right next to the ACC and connected via a passageway.

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A look at what the new Tim Hortons in Côte Saint-Luc will look like.

Negotiations  between Mayor Brownstein, our senior staff and Tim Hortons officials have been going on for more than a year. The mayor brought Councillors Sidney Benizri  and David Tordjman on board, members of the  Montreal Vaad Hair (MK), Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko,  Israel Consul General  David Levy and former Montrealer turned Israeli Sylvan Adams.  As a result of these discussions, Adams will secure the franchise rights for Tim Hortons to make its debut in Israel.

“Côte Saint-Luc will be the test case for Israel,” said Mayor Brownstein.

“Finally,” said Rabbi Poupko, “I will be able to experience the taste of  timbits.”

Consul General Levy made the connection with Mr. Adams, who made Aliya to Israel a few years ago but remains very much connected  to his hometown. Not only does Mr. Adams want to have a series of kosher Tim Hortons franchises in Israel, but he intends to have food court versions open up at Montreal Jewish day school cafeterias.

The ACC is already a popular destination for hundreds of people each day. The present-day snack bar will close and in the summer season Tim Hortons will setup a satellite site at the pool. “We also hope to do the same thing at the arena,” said Mayor Brownstein. “With the first ever kosher Tim Hortons, the ACC area will become a destination locale for all of the Jewish community in Greater Montreal.”

With a school across the street and new high rise buildings under construction, the timing is perfect for such a move.

Rabbi Saul Emmanuel, executive director of the Vaad, called this a great moment in Canadian Jewish history.

Former Parks and Recreation Department stalwart Harold Cammy, a diehard McDonald's customer, has agreed to come out of retirement to manage the operation.

As for Councillor Mike Cohen, he wished everyone a Happy April Fool’s Day. But the more I think of it, would this not be a great idea?

 

 


New dry cleaner/tailor opens on Westminster

There is a new business in  Côte Saint-Luc.    


Today I dropped by one of my favorite strip malls on Westminster and Mackle Road to pick up some items at Nosherz bakery. There is also a fish market and Qualitifruits. Now you can add a first-class dry cleaner/tailor.

Nettoyeur
Singh Deol

 Nettoyeur Jack has only been in operation for a few weeks, but word is already catching on. Brother Jack and Singh Deol ran the same kind of business in NDG for over 30 years. They wisely saw the vacancy on Westminster and jumped on it.


Singh showed me the state of the art equipment he and his brother have purchased. There were plenty of clothes ready to be picked up. “So many people come shopping here and they have noticed us,” Singh said. “We still want to spread the word.

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Tibi Selcer

Jack is also the tailor and this represents a true need in our community. For decades people went to Rockland Tailor at the CSL Shopping Centre. Herman “Tibi” Selcer was the owner and what a magic touch he had with the needle. I used to love visiting Tib, even when I did not need any alterations. He was full of personality, not to mention a real charmer with the ladies. He passed away last month

When he retired, a gentleman named Constantine took over the place with his wife and has carried on Tibi’s tradition. Now there is another option, one in which you can park right next to the door.

Councillor Mitch Kujavsky said that he had a nice pair of pants sitting around the house for a year. The other day he took a walk to Nettoyeur Jack. They needed a seam fixed. "I brought the pants in and they did a very thorough examination," he said. "Four hours later I got a call that they were ready and it was a mere $7."

Nettoyeur Jack is located at 5808 Westminster. For more information call 514-481-6060.


The pumps may be gone at Shell, but Raffi Abikian insists he is not going anywhere

For the past 25 years, Raffi Abikian has become an iconic figure in Côte Saint-Luc. His Shell Service Station on Westminster Avenue has a loyal clientele.

In the recent past our community the then full Cavendish Mall had Pneus Experts and Canadian Tire, which serviced cars while there was also Bernie’s on Côte Saint-Luc Road. The first two shut down and last fall Bernie’s relocated to Lachine.

Raffi
Raffi Abikian

When Shell opened a self-serve gas station, complete with a car wash and a Boni-Soir the future of Raffi’s was questioned. He does not own the land. His service bays are always busy.  The man is a genius. He remembers the history of every car in his computer. We are not talking laptop here. “The computer in my head,” he laughs.

I am writing this story because Raffi wants to assure all of his customers that he is not going anywhere.  People are wondering because there are no more gas pumps. These were removed. The next step is for Raffi to buy the land and focus exclusively on fixing vehicles. He has already started negotiations with Shell.  Once a deal is complete, he intends to completely renovate and expand.

Raffi already owns a repair and body shop in NDG.  Had Shell forced him out completely, he would have been left with no alternative but to house all of his business there.

Originally Raffi owned a station further down Westminster, closer to Montreal West,

“We started from scratch when we opened our first garage and built our client list,” says Raffi. “Then, we had the opportunity to get this location, so we took it.”

Raffi’s son Ari, a very polite young man, is part of his talented and devoted team of mechanics.

Côte Saint-Luc needs at least one service station and who could ask for anyone better than Raffi? He will only have to make one adjustment and not answer the phone with the word “Shell!”


CBC News report: Trading and giving away unused items

Community initiative in Côte-St-Luc draws inspiration from Buy Nothing Project

Facebook group helps connect people who want to trade or give away items to others in the area

Laura Elfman Ilana Grostern

Laura Elfman, left, and Ilana Grostern are hoping to encourage residents of Côte-St-Luc to trade or give away unused items for free instead of buying new. (CBC)

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A new initiative in Côte-St-Luc is hoping to encourage residents to turn to their community for what they need—instead of their wallets.

Buy Nothing Côte-St-Luc is a Facebook group launched last month by Ilana Grostern. So far it has almost 100 members.

The concept, inspired by the international Buy Nothing Project, challenges residents to avoid buying new items and try to barter or trade for it instead.

"It's about the spirit of giving and receiving," Grostern told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Grostern said she was inspired to make the group after watching a documentary on minimalism and realizing how much she "mindlessly consumed." A friend referred her to the Buy Nothing Project, and she felt driven to make a group for her community.

"A lot of people are just sitting on things they absolutely do not need and need to find a way to get rid of," Grostern said. "And people feel good, when they give something away just out of the kindness of their heart."

Choosing not to sell

Laura Elfman has her own Côte-St-Luc Facebook group, the Côte-St-Luc Mega Online Garage Sale, with almost 4,000 members.

However, she said she now prefers to use the Buy Nothing group, going so far as to help promote it on her own page.

"What's good about this group is that we're a community," said Elfman. "Hopefully they're asking for it for a reason," Elfman said. "If they need it, it's my pleasure to give it."

Fostering a community

Every application to join the group is vetted by Grostern, to make sure that the applicant does live within the boundaries of Côte-St-Luc.

"The entire purpose of the Buy Nothing group is to focus on building your local community, and connecting locals," she explained.

Right now, the group is primarily made up of parents, who are exchanging things like strollers and children's toys. Grostern said she hopes to see that expand as the group continues to grow.

"In the established groups that have been around for a lot longer, and there's a whole mix of people from the community," she said.

The group operates on an honour system, expecting that everyone who takes part is acting in good faith.

"[We] operate on the assumption that everybody's there with the best of intentions, and not there to take advantage of anybody else."


Reitmans closes its store at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre

A few weeks after the Pik Nik snack bar closed at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre, the popular Reitmans clearance store has shut down as well.

Reitmans

"We closed the Reitmans clearance store on January 28," spokesperson Katia Reyburn advised me. "Please know that closing a store is not a decision we take lightly. Reitmans is a healthy Canadian brand that has been in business for 90 years and we’re here to stay. As a national retailer, we are regularly making decisions regarding opening, renovating, relocating and closing stores, based on the needs of the ever changing Canadian landscape. Reviewing our portfolio of stores is part of the normal course of business."

Ms. Reyburn noted that there are many other Reitmans stores in the Greater Montreal area ready to serve the Côte Saint-Luc customer: four downtown stores and one nearby at Carrefour Angrignon.

I must commend the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre for it always seems to find tenants for any empty storefronts. The former West End Gym (originally Vic Tannys) downstairs remains vacant.

 


Pik Nik shuts down at the CSL Shopping Centre

Ever since I can remember there has been a Pik Nik snack bar at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre. Located by the IGA, Junior Booty, the SAQ and the barber shop, it's a snack bar surrounded by stools and some tables on the side. Hot dogs have traditionally been the most popular items there. They also make sandwiches, some other snacks and serve breakfast.

A few days ago the owner, Khang, was forced to shut down operations. "The owners of this centre want too much in rent," he told me. "I cannot afford to stay, so I closed."

As Khang connected his things, regulars came the counter and stared ahead in shock. "What do you mean you are closed?" one heartbroken lady remarked.

PikNik
The sadly abandoned Pik Nik.

Will the Centre get someone else to run the operation and bring Pik Nik back to life? Until then the only places left to eat are the Subways,  Muffins Plus, a sushi stop and Dominos Pizza. The IGA food counter makes some pretty good prepared meals and if you ever go there around lunchtime they drum up some good business. Who remembers the days when the Ben Ash Deli enjoyed a popular following?

As for Khang, who ran the Pik Nik with his wife, I hope he is able to bounce back somewhere else.


West-End Gym moving to Cavendish Club; MCC in limbo?

The very well established West-End Gym,  at one time known as Vic Tanny's, is moving from its location in the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre and setting up shop on February 5 at the Cavendish Club. So where does that leave Multi Club Cavendish, the gym presently in that spot? Only a few weeks ago they announced that their operation was moving into the former Bureau en Gros at Quartier Cavendish. However, a letter sent out to its members places that very much in doubt.

"MCC is doing everything in its power to finalize plans to move into a suitable location for its members," the letter states. "However, MCC's  priority is to ensure members uninterrupted service. MCC has no other alternative but to inform you that it must cancel your present membership agreement effective upon reception of this notice. Be assured that MCC will use its best efforts to relocate the gym to a new location and will inform you of its new location as soon as possible."

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Dennis Ambalapady

This does not sound promising for MCC members. But it is great news for the West-End Gym. I dropped by there today and met with co-owner and manager Dennis Ambalapady. He has been at this gym for 25 years and is one of the reasons why members know they can put their trust in this operation. "It is a great opportunity for us," he said. "We are moving into an excellent facility and we fully expect our membership to increase."

According to management analysis, Ambalapady says that demand for the new club location will exceed its capacity. "Although the club is 30,000 square, we plan to limit the number of members to only 2,000," a letter from the West-End Gym states. "If the demand exceeds 2,000, priority will be given to existing West-end gym members."

Ambalapady reasons that Cavendish Club is a mere four minute drive from the CSL Shopping Centre. "The new club will be one of the finest facilities in the city and far superior to our existing premises," the West-End Gym letter says. 

While fees at the new location will be increased, existing members are being offered to transfer at no charge.

Ownership will be be investing heavily in new equipment. As for the Cavendish Club facility, Ambalapady says it offers the following options:

Parking - There are currently eight outdoor tennis courts all zoned for parking by the city. Four of these courts will be used to park between 80 and 100 cars. There is also parking lot for 30 cars at the entrance.

The Four Remaining Courts (upon obtaining proper permit) - They will be used as a multi-sport surface, possibly for tennis,soccer,volleyball,badminton and jogging.

Swimming Pool - There is a 50 foot indoor pool which will be available for different activities (aquafitness classes, mom & tot class, free swim etc..)

Spa - There is currently a Spa with massage tables for which owners  are looking for an operator. 

Restaurant/ Lounge - There is a large restaurant/lounge area  of 2,800 sq/ft with patio doors leading to an outdoor terrace and also to the pool. The restaurant will be serving a healthy menu consisting of a variety of salads,wraps,shakes etc.. The restaurant would also be available for rental  for private parties.

Locker Rooms - There are two large locker rooms with ample shower stalls and toilets and two large saunas in immaculate condition. There is also a lounge area in the locker rooms.

Three Squash Courts - Additional fees  will apply.

Women’s Only Workout Room - It  comes in fully equipped with a 20 foot ceiling.

Aerobic Floor - The aerobic floor has a 20 foot ceiling and natural light. Although the current size is smaller than the existing one at the West-End Gym, it will be doubled in width by removing a wall.

Main Gym - This has a large floor to ceiling windows running along two opposite walls and it is very bright and spacious, equipped with state of the art Hoist equipment.

Spinning classes, Shotokan karate,  Kudoki/kung-Fu, Sambo, Aquafit classes and  Cross-fit will continue to be offered by outside providers. You do not need to be a member to enrol. The gym can be reached at 514-489-6879. 

So what happens to the old Bureau en Gros?  The Quartier has that huge empty spota as well as the old Yeh! Yogourt spot. I would like to see a deli established there. We have not had a replacement for the legendary Delly Boys, which closed a few months ago. I am also hearing talk about Winners setting up shop at the old Bureau en Gros. We will wait and see.

 


McHappy Day in CSL and other Pierre Brunet locales supports MAB-Mackay

Wednesday May 6 is McHappy Day at McDonald's Restaurants across Canada, bringing the community together to raise money for children in need.

Once again this year, local Montreal franchise owner Pierre Brunet has selected the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre as the focus for his McEfforts. For anyone who goes to one of Pierre's 11 McDonald's locations, you will have the opportunity to support the pediatric programs at MAB-Mackay. What a fine organization Pierre has chosen to partner with. Wearing my hat for the English Montreal School Board, we operate the Mackay Centre School  and Philip E. Layton School for the Visually Impaired on Decarie.

I stopped by the beautiful Côte Saint-Luc Road facility where I chatted with supervisor Jeffrey Ferreira, manager John Raftopoulos and Jenny Jacob and Isabelle Hartnell from MAB-Mackay. One dollar  from sales of each Big Mac, Happy meals and McCafé goes to the charity. They are also selling mugs, balloons, caps and little boots that go up on the wall with your name on it. A raffle is taking place as well for a brand new adult bicycle.

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Jenny Jacob, John Raftopoulos, myself, Isabelle Hartnell and Jeffrey Ferreira.

Pierre Brunet and his team always go the extra mile to lend a helping hand in the community, as witnessed by the incredible work done to support Manoir Ronald McDonald near the Ste. Justine Hospital. This serves as a temporary residence for families from outside the Montreal area who bring their children here for medical treatment.

Everyone I saw was being very generous.

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Parks and Recreation District supervisor Shauna Lemieux on left with Valerie Gibson and Lauren Fairlie.

 

Here is a list of Pierre Brunet's locations:

- St-Jacques: 7270, rue St-Jacques O.
- Marché Central: 1021 F Rue du Marché Central
- Côte-des-Neiges : 6025, ch. de la Côte-des-Neiges
-Côte-des-Neiges II : 5252, ch. de la Côte-des-Neiges
- Cavendish Mall: 5800 Boulevard Cavendish
- Beaumont: 1300, av. Beaumont
- Gare Centrale: 895 rue de la Gauchetière O.
- Queen Mary: 5155, ch. Queen Mary
- Place Ville Marie: 1 Place Ville Marie
- Westmount: 5011, rue Sherbrooke O.
- Côte St-Luc: 7003, ch. de la Côte St-Luc

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Alvin Fishman from Parks and Recreation at the McDonald's Côte des Neiges locale.


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We encourage everyone to help make a difference in the lives of the more than 2,000 children with vision, hearing, motor and communication impairments who depend on the MAB-Mackay each year.


For more information about the MAB-Mackay Foundation, call (514) 488-0043 or  log on to www.foundation.mabmackay.ca.


Laurentian Bank to close it CSL branch on Jan. 22

Part of the history of Côte Saint-Luc is about to disappear. The Laurentian Bank, located at the corner of Westminster Avenue and Côte Saint-Luc Road, will close its doors on Thursday, January 22 at 7 p.m. Those who have their account there will be transferred to the branch at 6640 Somerled Avenue in NDG with the promise of more employees and extended business hours.

Laurentian

For decades the City and District Savings Bank, as this institution was known up until 1987, was part of the landscape in the community. Across the street at one time was Galardo's Restaurant, where a Canada Trust Bank now stands. In the small shopping plaza anchored by the Famous Delly Boys, on the other side of the street, there is a Scotiabank.

Laurentian Bank switched its format more than a decade ago when it stopped employing tellers. Customers were encouraged to use the machines. Ironically, this change increased the level of customer service to such an impressive level that there was more one-on-one attention that before. Staff behind the counter were actuallu approacheable  and would complete any transaction necessary. It was nonetheless clear that this branch was operating on borrowed time. Half the facility was not even being used and a number of customers had switched their accounts to banks with tellers. It will be interesting to see how many move on to NDG.

Customers will have to change their account numbers, but they are being given a four year grace period to make the transition. An automatic banking machine will remain in place for now on Westminster. But there is a big "for rent" sign up so there is no telling what business might take this spot.