In 2011, Montreal was buzzing when Gordon Ramsay rolled into town last year amidst much fanfare to save the beloved but worn out Rôtisserie Laurier.
The famous Laurier chicken dinner — Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Laurier 1936 Over 600 VIPs joined Ramsay for his grand opening in August 2011 to showcase how he had rescued one of Montreal's institution. Ramsay didn’t really change all the much. He added several new items including shrimp and crab rolls and grilled salmon. The venue's signature roasted chicken remained, along with its famous chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie.
But Ramsay’s name on the menu and a $1.5-million facelift (including a new coat of paint) was enough to revive this Montreal eatery and save it from closing. The place became downright trendy. Purists were worried the Laurier might become another poser celebrity restaurant but people did start flocking to Laurier Gordon Ramsay.
The relationship between the owners and Ramsay would prove to be short-lived. Early in February 2012, six months after the big opening, disgruntled owner Danny Lavy gave Ramsay the boot, claiming the potty-mouthed celebrity chef had failed to deliver on his promise by never returning to the restaurant after the media launch. Ramsay also never put any money into the restaurant but chose a six-month consulting role instead.
Mr. Ramsay responded with his usual graciousness and issued a threat to sue Mr. Lavy for dismissing his contribution to revitalizing the restaurant. After discussion with his publicists, Ramsay changed his statement to express his disappointment with Lavy cutting ties. He didn’t rule out returning to Montreal for another shot at a new restaurant.
Meanwhile, the chicken continues to be roasted just the way patrons like it. On the new menu Ramsay’s name has been replaced with “Laurier 1936”–the year the restaurant opened. The main item remains the roasted chicken dinner with fries and a side of coleslaw.