Martin Juneau bids farewell to Pastaga

Martin Juneau will live his last moments on Saturday evening at the head of the restaurant Pastaga, in Montreal, on the occasion of the New Year’s Eve that he organized. After 11 years, he and his colleague Louis-Philippe Breton will pass the torch to a new couple of owners.

After this departure, what title should be attached to Mr. Juneau, who was a chef and who made himself known in several TV cooking shows? » That’s a very good question. Martin Juneau, human? he replies with a laugh, referring in particular to his role as the father of three daughters to which he now wishes to devote his efforts. Despite everything, his professional life is far from over, since this natural wine enthusiast remains the owner of a wine import agency and a café-caterer called Tricot Principal.

But the Pastaga, his second restaurant in life, occupied a large part of his daily life. Too big even. According to him, family life and that of a restaurateur are very incompatible. There are evening hours, the likelihood of being disturbed at any time to solve a problem and the impossibility of picking up. “When I was at the restaurant, I thought of my family, and when I was with my family, I thought of the restaurant,” he illustrates in an interview, before setting off for daycare. This is a problem, especially since, according to him, the key to success in restoration is to have an owner who is very present on the ground.

In addition, the pandemic has restored visibility to the restaurant, which was no longer “the flavor of the moment”, according to him. He and his team rolled up their sleeves creatively by quickly coming up with a take-out menu. But the crisis has also been exhausting for the Pastaga team.

It is in this context that the two business partners made the decision to sell the business. And they do it with pride, because Mr. Juneau considers the path and longevity of his restaurant to be rather unique. “It’s rare to sell a restaurant. Usually, we close because we are in financial difficulty, ”said the man who said he had ruined his health working long hours in his restaurant. “We are proud to say that we have a legacy that will live on and that people will not forget us right away. »

A known succession

The next generation consists of two former employees who met at Pastaga, Francis and Geneviève. They will initially use the identity of the popular restaurant, but they plan to change it later to make their own project, says Mr. Juneau.

Despite this beautiful prospect, the restaurateur has already begun to experience a bit of nostalgia. “Earlier, I was emptying my locker. I’ve been hoarding stuff for a long time. And there, there are plenty of memories — magazines, appearances [médiatiques] that I had completely forgotten, even big stuff like the Food Wine “says the author of the cookbook Culinary simplicity.

For New Year’s Eve, which is, according to him, « a special evening at the restaurant », Mr. Juneau will « make sure to make everyone happy for one last time ». Early the next day, he planned to go on vacation with his children, his girlfriend, his mother, his sister and his uncle. “I have the impression that I will not be able to live my down. The journey is going to be a bit my rebound. […] My real heartbreak is likely to begin after these holidays, ”believes the 45-year-old man.

A new professional challenge is already taking shape, in the field of food consultation, which Mr. Juneau is keeping secret for the moment. To hear his enthusiasm when he evokes it mysteriously, one can guess that he will come to cheer him up.

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