March 14, 2013

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Furco, is the newest hotspot in Quartier des Spectacles. The bar, which opened just a few months ago, attracts customers from all over Montreal.

We talked with Simone, Jean-François and Joëlle, three of the successful establishment’s seven partners.


Jean-François and Simone. Photo: Marie-Joëlle Corneau

How did you end up deciding to open a bar in the Quartier?

Simone: The space was the first thing that inspired our designer, Zébulon Perron. He wanted to create something in the same spirit as what you often find in Berlin: eclectic industrial-chic. And this former fur warehouse [a past that gave the bar its name – it’s a contraction of Fur & Company] was ideal for that. He approached the Buvette Chez Simone partners with the concept, and then we approached Jean-François to manage the bar.

What is Furco’s concept?

Simone: It’s a bar where you eat well. An unpretentious place where quality is what matters most. Michel Bergeron, who’s in charge of the wine list, works hard to find great bottles that anyone can enjoy, and the same principle applies to the menu.

Joëlle (chef): As much as possible I try to showcase seasonal and local products, but it isn’t always easy to do that in winter. I refresh the menu every week. The charcuterie-and-cheese plate and our famous fries are the only permanent items. And to stay in that convivial spirit we want to encourage here, the portions are mid-way between tapas and main courses, which makes it easy for several people to share them so that everyone gets to taste more than one dish.

Jean-François: The ambiance changes a lot from one night to the next and from hour to hour over the course of the evening. Early in the evening, and early in the week, it feels like a neighbourhood bar, where you’ll mostly find people on their way to shows or hanging out after finishing work at the many nearby cultural venues and institutions. On weekends after 10 p.m., there’s more of a party vibe.


Joëlle in the kitchen. Photo: Marie-Joëlle Corneau

So the clientele changes from one evening to the next?

Jean-François: Yes, and there’s always an interesting mix, with all kinds of styles and ages mingling. We try to vary the experience, particularly with our choice of music: on Friday we only play rock, and on Saturday you’ll hear more electro.

Simone: But we know we don’t have much control over what Furco will eventually become. As soon as you open a bar, you’re immediately dispossessed, in a sense. It’s the customers who give it a sense of place. We’ve also noticed that restaurants and bars tend to transform themselves on a roughly two-year cycle.


Photo: Marie-Joëlle Corneau

Every Thursday and Friday there’s always a long line starting at 5 p.m. Were you expecting that kind of success?

Simone: It’s way beyond our expectations. A month before opening, when we were coming here every day, we started to get worried about the fact that there was nothing much nearby. The bar is tucked away on a street where there wasn’t so much as a cat after 6 p.m. People really weren’t in the habit of going out around here. We asked ourselves: is that going to help us or hurt us? Will they come because there’s nothing, or not come because there’s nothing? Now we know the answer.

Jean-François: Now, we make sure we’re ready for the crowds, with everything properly and precisely organized. And starting in April [2013] we will be open on Sundays.

You haven’t done any promotion. Your website is as minimal as can be. How do you explain your success?

Jean-François: We all have large networks. The fact that Furco has a connection to Buvette chez Simone also helped build the initial buzz. With social networks, news travels very fast.

Simone: Our customers can probably sense the pleasure we take in working with people we like, serving people we like. I also think the fact that Jean-François and Joëlle are always here helps give the place some soul, a sense of hominess. I think it makes all the difference when you’re being served by the owners.


Photo: Marie-Joëlle Corneau

Do you have plans to open more bars?

Maybe, but if we do it will be something different. That was a concern when we opened here: it was important to us that it not be a branch of the Buvette.

Stay tuned...

Bar Furco, 425 Mayor, Montreal, QC. 514-764-3588 Open every day, 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. (kitchen 5 p.m. to midnight)

Posted March 14, 2013