Year 2017 was a blur to me and as I am sitting in our new restaurant at 1448 St-Mathieu Montreal downtown I realize it’s time for me to back fill some blogs for the EVENTs about Cuisine AuntDai.
At around 3AM Oct 1st 2017, a suspicious fire destroyed the building of our restaurant at 5557A Cote-des-Neiges. I got the call from our landlord at around 9AM that morning saying my restaurant was destroyed by a fire and it was so surreal for me to have this kind of accident, on a day which is Chinese national day and as an immigrant from China, this day is still marked on my memory calendar. Something looks like being destined somehow. Cuisine AuntDai started from zero and slowly we got recognition from customers. With all the profits we accumulated we renovated the restaurant at the end of March 2017 and opened a new restaurant in Anjou. Then in October, this BIG fire destroyed the profitable, recently renovated CDN restaurant. When I dug out the insurance policy I was shocked if not destroyed to find out that our insurance coverage was minimal. To make things worse, the Anjou restaurant was still losing money as I mentioned in the previous blogs. We lost BIG financially this time. Myself and my wife worked so hard to keep our restaurant running and this fire was too much to bear. I am the kind guy who never loses hopes and always smiles to all the difficulties. At the times like this I need to help my wife to overcome this feeling of big loss. A lot of late nights, I spent time drinking beers with my wife at 3 Brasseurs and drew her some pretty pictures about Cuisine AuntDai’s future even the future was looking very bleak at that time.
For the first few days after the fire, I was cleaning the after life of the restaurant. When I was standing in the burnt down kitchen, I knew each inch of space and the emotion was powerful. Sometimes, I just feel life is not easy and it’s even unfair. The police said it was an arson but they could not catch the bad guy. You never thought some evil minded people could change your life this much.
With our main restaurant destroyed, we shifted all our focus on the restaurant in Anjou. We had few customers in Anjou and it was the beginning days of our first restaurant at CDN only with very low morale. When we started our business in Feb 2014, we were full of energy and prepared to deal with the slow start. For the month of October, alcohol was the comfort.
But for a week or two right after the fire, we did see an unusual increase of business for our Anjou restaurant. It was due to the fact that a lot of customer at CDN came to Anjou to support us after knowing the news of fire. But it was really too far for these customers and after the week of support, the business went back to normal low. I do appreciate all the support and wishes from our loyal customers.
After a month of depression, we had to think about the plan. To be honest, we were mentally tired and scared to think about reopening a new restaurant. And the financial risk of opening a new one was always a concern too. But a lot of our customers suggested us to reopen somewhere. If we don’t open a new restaurant at a better location, with only one in the far Anjou, it means a factual give-up on the brand Cuisine AuntDai which could bother us for a very long time to come. With all the good staff we have, no action means a give-up on them too, if we keep losing business, they will have to find better opportunities somewhere else. All these internal and open debates lead us to only one direction. We will gather ourselves and restart our journey as a owner of Chinese restaurants even it means more hard work and struggles following the decision.
From November 2017, we started looking for a place. The first choice will be somewhere close to the old restaurant but there was no available restaurant space of the size we would like. Then we looked at Brossard where there are a lot of Chinese population which is good for Chinese restaurant. We almost bought a restaurant at Brossard but the landlord was trying to have us take another space they had. After that we saw a restaurant for sale at Concordia downtown and after a quick negotiation the offer we made were accepted. With the eager to bring back Cuisine AuntDai, we opened our new restaurant on December 30th 2017. It was little bit rushed but I was thinking, the bad thing happened in 2017 we had to have a new one in 2017. We leave everything in year 2017 and wish good luck in year 2018.
The new restaurant is at 1448 St-Mathieu, H9H2H9, near Concordia Metro exit, 5149351067. I will tell more stories about this new restaurants in the next blogs.
We have two restaurants now, in Anjou and Downtown Montreal.
All the info about us is on our website http://www.auntdai.com