Robert Alexis Traiteur : a love story

 
Robert Alexis Traiteur’s story is one of a passionate young man who, after lengthy—perhaps exceedingly lengthy—university studies, decided to focus on what he loved most: entertaining.

On October 6, 1980, Robert Arslanian set out on his first adventure in the restaurant business with L’Entre Miche, a friendly, 35-seat bistro. Conveniently located on Sainte-Catherine facing Télé-Québec, L’Entre Miche only served breakfast and lunch. As risky as this may seem, the restaurant was a resounding success in record time. Always packed, it received high praise from the likes of Françoise Kayler, Gildas Meneu, Debeur, Josée Lapointe and Jean-Yves Girard, to name but a few.

Just one week after the restaurant opened, Télé-Québec put in its first lunch order. Over time, with all the orders and receptions it was handling, L’Entre Miche was beginning to look like a caterer. The restaurant decided to embrace its new vocation, organizing its first Christmas party the year it opened—with 350 guests!

In the early 80s, Montréal gastronomy was still in its infancy. Smoked salmon, foie gras, crab and Middle Eastern spices were still just curiosities at the time. With all these original ingredients, a whole new world was opening up!

Three years after L’Entre Miche opened, Robert, tired of repeating, “Sorry, we’re fully booked,” decided to invest in an adjacent space that could seat 55 patrons. In the gleaming kitchen beneath the bistro, the catering service really took off. What’s more, each week, L’Entre Miche delighted the guests on Parler pour parler with Janette Bertrand. Needless to say, it was a terrific showcase.

Alexis, Robert’s son, was born in 1987. The young family lived above the bistro at the time, and on the day little Alexis came home from the hospital, Louise Deschâtelets and Janette Bertrand happened to be there to play welcoming committee. “They were at the bistro for the show Les carnets de Louise, enjoying my pastries when Alexis arrived,” jokes Robert. The little one’s future, it seems, was already mapped out.

One year later, the new space was already too small, so Robert bought the adjacent building and expanded the catering service’s kitchen. It was an ambitious project, even for an experienced restaurateur.