St-Viateur Bagel Shop
Panadería en Montreal
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From Poland to Montreal! When he arrived in Canada in 1953, St-Viateur Bagel Shop founder Myer Lewkowicz didn’t know the first thing about baking anything, let alone bagels. He had grown up in a large, poor family in a Jewish village, or shtetl, near Krakow, Poland. Lewkowicz knew about not having enough to eat. In 1942, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Years later, while speaking to a high school class, Lewkowicz said, “At Buchenwald, all I dreamt of was a piece of bread.” Lewkowicz lived and worked in Germany after the war until 1952, when he was discovered by Jewish Immigration Aid Services of Canada. JIAS sent him to Montreal, where he got a job at Hyman Seligman’s Montreal Bagel Bakery on St-Laurent. Working with Seligman and his partners, Lewkowicz learned the bagel trade and 1957 he set up his own shop with Hyman Seligman on St-Viateur street with his wife Emma by his side. Joe Morena was only fifteen when he started work at the Bagel Shop. He knew Myer Lewkowicz from delivering milk to his house on the weekend. Morena’s cousin worked around the corner from the bagel shop and convinced him to apply. Lewkowicz said, “Hey Yosel!”—the Yiddish name for Joe—and hired him to start that night. Serving so many older Jewish customers, Morena even learned to speak Yiddish. In 1974, after taking a short hiatus, he returned to the bagel business and became part owner of the business with Lewkowicz. The two worked as partners until Lewkowicz’s death in 1994, after which Joe Morena and Marco Sbalno partnered up to continue the tradition. By 1998, Joe Morena estimated that he’d personally made some 25 million bagels! The Bagel Shop has been visited by thousands of customers—from native Montrealers to international tourists. The list of repeat customers includes local celebrities like Leonard Cohen, Georges St-Pierre, Roberto Luongo, Mordecai Richler, William Shatner and Céline Dion, as well as famous out-of-towners like Kelly Ripa, Harvey Keitel, James Woods and Adrian Grenier from Entourage. Check out there many locations, but know that you need to see the original too !
263 Rue Saint Viateur O