Bishop Street restaurant forced to close over Montreal construction woes

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WATCH: A well-known bistro on Bishop Street has fallen victim to endless construction. Global's Phil Carpenter has the story. – Oct 23, 2019

The Ferrari Restaurant on Bishop Street will close next month.

Owner Elio Schiavi said with all the construction in the area over the last few years and with other planned projects, he’s losing too much money.

“That means the restaurant will go down again and then I’m gonna be in debt,” he predicted.  “Geez! No!  I can’t!”

The cabinetmaker from Italy had no plans to move to Montreal 52 years ago and struggled to succeed in his field.

“So I opened a restaurant,” he explained.

That was 38 years ago. Since then, Ferrari Restaurant became a thriving bistro on Bishop Street.

READ MORE: Bishop Street merchants brace for more construction work

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“I put my life in this place,” he said, fighting back tears.  “I put my soul in this place.”

He’s the latest merchant on Bishop to go out of business due to construction.  Since 2016, work on a Société de transport de Montréal (STM) mechanical ventilation station closed much of the street to pedestrian traffic. That work ended this summer, but in those three years he lost a lot.

“It’s $85,000 per year,” he told Global News.

He says he didn’t even take a salary.

Now there’s another project right next door to the restaurant and on top of that, he expects renovation work to begin on his building and others next spring.

He figures business will plummet again and he doubts anyone will buy his restaurant because of that.  In all he expects to lose half a million dollars.

That’s why he’s closing, he says.

READ MORE: Montreal announces construction compensation plan amid Bishop Street woes

“Now at 76 years old, I have to go and find a job,” he told Global News.  “Fifty-two years — you build up something, and then you…”  His voice trailed off as he struggled to compose himself.

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The City of Montreal is offering up to $30,000 a year to affected businesses, but he said authorities told him he doesn’t qualify.  He does have a pending lawsuit against the city for a quarter million dollars.

His staff worries too.  Fifty-six year-old Lynne Coté has been here for 26 years and she doesn’t know what she’ll do.

“For my age to find another job it’s gonna be very hard,” she explained.

Long time clients like Mario Perron will miss the place.  He said the food was always good and that the staff was always good to him.

“1989 is when I started eating here,” he said.  “We work in downtown and this used to be our lunch place.”

Schiavi is grateful to his clients for their years of support.  Now he wants take some time to reflect on the loss of his life’s work.

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