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Landmark Montreal restaurant being ‘brought back to life’ after 25 years

A lavish and unique emblem of Montreal history is being revived this week, 25 years after it closed.

The revamped ninth-floor restaurant of the city’s downtown Eaton Centre will reopen its doors to the public Friday.

“This is a Montreal landmark being brought back to life,” Heritage Montréal policy director Dinu Bumbaru said in an interview with Global News Morning. “It was inaugurated in 1931 and with great pomp and circumstances. And it was a great pleasure. People really enjoyed it.”

The dazzling art deco space quickly became a draw for the department store at the time — attracting patrons, particularly women, according to Bumbaru.

Le 9e boasts a 120-seat restaurant, as well as a large event space.

Le 9e restaurant/Facebook

“A department store in those days included this kind of facility,” he said. “But in the case of Eaton, Lady Eaton’s vision was quite outstanding. And she brought in an architect who was essentially the representative of French modernist art deco in North America. Jack Cafferty did this project in Montreal.”

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Le restaurant shuttered in 1999 when Eaton’s declared bankruptcy, but the space was classified as a heritage site by the Quebec government the following year.

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“The protection was really appreciated and the fact that it happened so quickly was a sign, a reassuring sign,” Bumbaru said of the heritage status.

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the company that owns the property, said last month that Le 9e was “painstakingly restored” to honour its original design. A group of local entrepreneurs will operate it.

Click to play video: 'Iconic 9th floor of Montreal Eaton’s Centre to reopen to public this year'

Iconic 9th floor of Montreal Eaton’s Centre to reopen to public this year

The sweeping space will be able to host up to 500 people at a time. It not only houses the 120-seat restaurant, known as Île de France and a cocktail bar, but two multi-purpose rooms and a massive venue known as la Grande Salle.

Montrealers who remember the original restaurant will probably compare the experiences and find some changes, Bumbaru said.

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But it’s also likely they will find some throwbacks.

Le 9e has hired big names, including renowned chefs Liam Hopkins and Derek Dammann. While the revamped restaurant’s menu isn’t public just yet, the owners have said the fine dining experience is “inspired by the original establishment’s menu.”

Bumbaru, for his part, said he looks forward to seeing what is being offered to hungry patrons.

“We will be looking for the menu because the restaurant of Eaton was place for chicken pie and green jelly, of course,” he said.

with files from Global News Morning

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