Inheriting their father’s clout in the restaurant industry, brothers Jim, Anthony, and Adam Tzemopoulos are no strangers to running a successful business. Sons to the one of the founders of Montreal’s legendary deli and steakhouse, Reuben’s, they were bred into a world of managing staff, reinventing menus, concept development, and entertainment, forming RD3 Restaurant Group. Now owning a number hotspots throughout the downtown core — including chic cafeteria-style Anton & James — the brothers have launched their new project, aptly named Deville Dinerbar, an eatery that straddles the fence between contemporary class and old-fashioned sensibility.
Something Old, Something New
What struck us first about this venture was the impressive detailing that went into Deville’s design. We thought the stark black exterior to be reminiscent of a magnet while watching many passersby drawn to the restaurant’s windows, attempting to enter, and finding to their dismay that it was booked for a private event. From the outside, it looks like an ultramodern bistro and yet, at its centre, Deville pays serious homage to diners of the 1950s. The classic, sprawling lunch counter is outfitted with familiar bucket seat stools while spacious, lounge-y booths stand opposite, inviting guests to get comfortable and stay that way.
All in the Brand
Reinventing the diner has been done time and again, but RD3 cleverly found a way to stand out against the norm. After touring in the U.S. over a number of years, they settled on a number of inspirations they wished to channel through Deville, improving clichéd nostalgia with a marketing campaign that goes heavy on digital interactivity. Their playful website has been shortlisted for a number of awards but, more importantly, you should note their remodeling of the jukebox. Basically, they’ve developed an iPhone app (downloadable through QR codes on the placemats, thanks guys!) that allows you to queue up songs from an extensive playlist. Such small, albeit newfangled, improvements show that Deville has rebuilt the idea of “Diner” from the ground up, and in the restaurant biz the little things can put you ahead of the competition.
Accouterments aside, Deville has a menu that is second to none. Constructed by executive chef John Zoumis, the dishes celebrate classic diner food from a bygone era. Still, and just like the rest of the restaurant, RD3 pushes the envelope to remind their guests that they’re still in twenty-first century Quebec. Not only does Zoumis reimagine ordinary meals — try the meatloaf, now wrapped with black forest bacon — he also aims to feature a little taste of Québécois throughout the menu. Cabane à Sucre–inspired maple syrup adds an unmistakable sweetness to their rotisserie chicken and glazes several of their heavenly desserts; we recommend the mini donuts. No diner would be complete without a good burger and shake combo, and again, Deville outdoes itself. In terms of milkshakes, they surprised us yet again, with a selection dubiously titled “R Rated”; after downing a few, we doubt we’ll ever go anywhere else. The “standard” burger here is a double patty, but if you’re feeling brave there’s also The Big Guy Burger: four burgers sandwiched between two grilled cheeses. C’mon, you know you need to try that. 1425 Stanley, 514-281-6556.
Image courtesy of Deville Dinerbar.