La Bête A Pain
By Nora Merola

A Neighbourhood Bakery

La Bête à pain bakery is a popular destination for the residents of Ahuntsic, although many of its clientele also come from outside the neighbourhood. While it started as a small business, the bakery has grown and is part of the revitalization of Fleury Street West.

Marc-André Royal, with his wife Annick Dufresne and friend Chantal Gervais, opened the bakery in 2008 after the success of their first business, Restaurant St-Urbain, located across the street. The trio grew up in Ahuntsic and it was that sense of belonging that motivated them to invest in the area. Even to this day, Annick's parents live on the corner of the street and Marc-André's live directly opposite, on the same street as La Bête à pain.

As a well-known chef in the city, Marc-André attracts a clientele that includes visitors from outside the neighbourhood. "People travel for the quality of the products," says Annick. "The festivals organized in the neighbourhood also attract many people."

People travel for the quality of the products. The festivals organized in the neighbourhood also attract many people. - Annick Dufresne, co-owner
The restaurant interior

A Small Business Expands

"Initially, we opened [Restaurant] St-Urbain and in order to have good bread, Marc-André decided to open a bakery," explains Chantal.

When the long-standing pastry shop La Capucine closed its doors in 2008, the trio knew the opportunity was too good to pass up. "We first opened a small Bête à pain at this location. One year later, we found ourselves with a nice problem: there was a line going up to the door of the bakery and we could not satisfy all of our wonderful customers! We were fortunate," says Chantal.

Luckily, the owner of the deli next door sold the business to the trio and they were able to expand Bête à pain to offer a dining area for lunch, and catering services.

The restaurant interior

Creative Cuisine

The bakery's pastry chefs make delicious pastries and breads that are different from what you may find elsewhere — fig and rosemary, raisins and cranberries — resulting in a good variety. Beyond good homemade products, the second part of the bakery offers a dining area where customers can enjoy lunch with a glass of imported wine. Pies are made on site and they also offer sandwiches and quality food that is mostly sourced from small suppliers. There are also unusual offerings such as Buffalone yogurt, made with buffalo milk, or fermented, artisanal butter, made in the traditional way.

"On weekends, we offer a five-course brunch," says Annick. "People also come for holidays, birthdays and business happy hour. We do not rent the room, but as we have the restaurant area and a liquor permit, we can do all kinds of customized events, and that's what's fun. Since the bakery closes at 7 pm, the evening is always available."

In the spring of 2016, a second Bête à pain opened in the Griffintown neighbourhood in Montreal. Business seems to be booming!

Some pastries you can try there.
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