Rebirth of Art Deco icon Le 9e restaurant

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Le 9e - Centre Eaton
Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett

Montréal’s fabled Art Deco Le 9e restaurant atop the Centre Eaton de Montréal has reopened after being meticulously restored to its former glory. 

A Montréal icon is reborn


Inspired by the dining room in the Île-de-France transatlantic ocean liner and designed by French architect Jacques Carlu, Le 9e restaurant (Le Neuvième, for the “ninth floor”) was originally called the Île-de-France restaurant when it opened in 1931.

Lady Flora Eaton, whose family owned Eaton’s department store, was a passenger on the 1927 maiden voyage of the Île-de-France liner and commissioned Carlu – a leading practitioner of Art Deco in North America who helped design the interiors of the Île-de-France ocean liner – to recreate the Art Deco décor of the ship’s elegant dining room.

By the time the ninth-floor restaurant closed in 1999 after Eaton’s filed for bankruptcy, the space – which by then had become a buffet – was still lovingly called Le 9e by Montrealers. It was also the subject of the 1998 Galafilm documentary Ladies of the 9th Floor which looks back over more than 60 years of the beloved restaurant. 

“For many people, (its closure) marked the end of an era and the beginning of a period of uncertainty,” explains Heritage Montréal historian Maude Bouchard Dupont in her McCord Stewart Museum essay about Le 9e. “Thankfully, however, groups like Heritage Montréal were paying close attention. With Eaton’s bankruptcy looming, the organization convinced Québec’s Minister of Culture, Agnès Maltais, to take immediate action to classify the department store’s ninth floor restaurant and its exceptional décor—including furniture, cutlery, works of art, lamps, etc.—as a heritage site. Though no one knew whether the restaurant would ever reopen, it was important to save this unique heritage.”

The iconic Art Deco space was classified as a heritage property under Québec’s Cultural Heritage Act in August 2000. Le 9e was then basically mummified for nearly a quarter-century before it was meticulously restored and reopened in 2024.

Le 9e - Centre Eaton

Le 9e - Centre Eaton

Le 9e - Centre Eaton

Le 9e - Centre Eaton

The new Le 9e

Owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge who partnered with the EVOQ architectural firm to carry out the renovations authorized by the Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications, Le 9e is operated by a group of Montréal entrepreneurs that includes Jeff Baikowitz (co-owner of the Joe Beef group), Marco Gucciardi (Bar GeorgeBurgundy LionMilos), Montréal showbiz legend and Just For Laughs co-founder Andy Nulman, event designer Madeleine Kojakian and the 7 Doigts creative collective. 

The new Le 9e comprises the 120-seat Île-de-France restaurant which is overseen by Executive Chef Liam Hopkins (Hopkins, McKiernan, Park) and Culinary Director Derek Dammann (Maison Publique, McKiernan, Fifteen). Andrew Whibley (Cloakroom Bar, Dominion Bar) heads up the cocktail bar, and Dominique Jacques (MELK) manages the café. 

In addition to the Île-de-France restaurant, Le 9e comprises the multipurpose Gold and Silver rooms with a capacity of 20 each; and La Grande Salle venue is equipped to host live shows, exhibitions and private functions for up to 500 guests.

Jewel in the crown

Nulman says La Grande Salle venue can be booked for private, culinary and entertainment concerts and events.

“Le 9e looks way nicer now than the buffet it was when I went there as a kid,” Nulman says. “It has been restored to the way it was when it first opened in 1931. We have been working on this for years, it was a huge undertaking, and I am very proud to be associated with this heritage space.”

A jewel of Montréal's architectural heritage, Le 9e is an important part of Montréal’s large Art Deco legacy. Montréal ranks among the top cities in the world for Art Deco architecture.

Click here to make Le 9e reservations.

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Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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