Beloved Montreal restaurant Nilufar shuts doorways after points with landlord – Montreal

A beloved Montreal institution has disappeared from Ste. Catherine Street.

For just under 30 years, Nilufar Restaurant has been serving up falafel and other Middle Eastern favorites for prices so low they’d make you do a double take.

Because of issues with their landlord, Friday was the last day of operations for the family-owned business.

“It’s definitely really, really sad,” said Nilufar Al-Shourbaji, whose parents opened the unassuming institution in 1994 and named it after her.

She’s spent most of her adult life there greeting customers and serving up cheap, delicious meals.

It really does feel like my home,” she said. “I’m full of emotions.”

The closure was not by choice. Last month, Al-Shourbaji was shocked to find the location listed online as available for rent.

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She says her landlord gave her no advanced notice.

If you’re wondering, no we didn’t know about this 💔
After almost 3 decades of being their tenants, you’d think our landlords would give us some sort of notice so that we wouldn’t find out through a listing.
For all catering inquiries text (514)262-9032 ❤️

— Nilufar (@resto_nilufar) November 8, 2022

“Maybe there could have been something I could have worked out in my head or done something, but not the way it happened,” she said.

READ MORE: Montreal food banks feeling the pinch as donations dwindle

Since she announced the restaurant would be closing, she says she has received thousands of messages of support.

“One of the main reasons why I come here is because I love the people so much. They’re so friendly,” said regular customer Belal Howidi, who told Global News he’d visited five of the last seven days leading up to closing.

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Customer André Goulet stopped in to grab a few falafels without knowing it was the final day of operations, saying he’d been coming for 10 years.

“I’m appreciative of everything they’ve done for the neighborhood and the community in terms of offering affordable, delicious, healthy food. I’m grateful for the work they’ve done,” he said, calling Nilufar an institution.

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Al-Shourbaji said her family always made the choice to help the community over maximizing profits.

“People need to eat, they need to live, they need clothes, you know? These basic needs shouldn’t be so overpriced,” she said.

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Former Montrealer Mike Babins was the first-ever customer back in 1994. He said when he was a student, Nilufar changed his life.

“I’m not the only one. It’s kept a lot of people alive when they couldn’t afford much else,” he said.

“It’s somewhere where all the Dawson students, all the Concordia students could get a quality meal that’s not just fast food garbage — that’s why it’s so sad it’s closing.”

Now living in Vancouver, he sent Al-Shourbaji a money transfer so he could be the last customer as well.

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“When people come to visit, I no longer will make them stop to get me falafel, which is going to be weird. Most people ask for bagels, I asked for falafel,” he told Global News.

The Al-Shourbaji family will continue its catering business, and sell their falafel in grocery stores.

Still, there will be a void on Ste. Catherine West.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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