Normally at Montreall.com, we like to celebrate restaurant and coffee shop openings or food-related events happening around the city. This post, however, will be a bittersweet one, as we celebrate coffee and donut shop Chez Boris and its final month at its location on Avenue du Parc.
You read right, the shop, which has been open since June 22nd 2012, will be closing at the end of April of this year. We chatted with owner Boris Volfson about what Montreal will be missing out on, the reasons for its (indefinite) shutting down, and future plans.
For those of you who don’t know, Chez Boris is a coffee shop renown for its Russian doughnuts — perfected by Boris and Grant, one of the shop’s first employees — which Volfson explains are fried to order, small, and not too sweet. But it’s also a coffee shop that has expanded its menu to include items such as the beignewich breakfast doughnut sandwich, pierogis, borscht, and Icelandic hotdogs.
The space itself has a homey yet eclectic feel, purposefully done so as to “appeal and welcome the entire Mile End and Montreal community,” explains Boris. The artistic vibe was achieved partly thanks to the help of the owner’s friend, artist Ed Kwong, who did some art work around the space, as well as collaborations Chez Boris has done over the years with various artists. (You should check out the coffee shop’s bathroom mural, which features a trippy street-art style.) The shop also displays works by local artists on its walls every month, curated by employee Karly.
As for the coffee shop’s beginnings, Volfson explains that he was “inspired by the simple, working-class, delicious doughnut shops from [his] native St-Petersburg.” Having no culinary background, Boris left a job as a User Interface designer and took the plunge into the world of small business ownership. Yet the journey was not without its struggles, from figuring out operations and marketing, to accounting and dealing with burn outs – both in a literal and metaphorical sense (the shop suffered a fire during its five-year run).
The hard work has paid off and Boris and his team were able to create a unique space with a worn-in feel that attracts students and residents alike, with the homemade doughnuts an added bonus for patrons to stop by and enjoy the fresh-baked goodness.
Unfortunately, the adage that all good things must come to an end seems to be true of Chez Boris as the lease with the building’s owner will not be renewed since Volfson is no longer living in Montreal. Yet Volfson asserts that he is trying to find partners or buyers who would take over the brand, and even hints at possibly resurrecting the shop himself in the future. For now, Chez Boris’ last day will likely be Sunday, April 23, 2017. So be sure to take advantage of this Mile End gem before its set closing date!
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am to 7pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am to 7pm
5151 Avenue du Parc, Montreal, Qc, H2V 4G3
Photos by Ania Szneps (@doughboy.89) and Chez Boris.