The Main Deli Steakhouse, a Montreal staple on Saint-Laurent Boulevard that has served customers for nearly five decades, is permanently closed.

Referred by many as simply The Main, the iconic restaurant was located just across the street from its main rival, Schwartz's Deli. For years, it was a local favourite for smoked meat sandwiches and was a hot spot for university students looking for a late-night snack.

The Montreal fixture was also among the many haunts of the late Leonard Cohen.

A sign posted on the door to the restaurant announced the closure.

"It is with regret that we inform you that the Main Deli has decided to close. Thank you to our loyal customers for all these years," the sign reads.

The restaurant opened its doors in 1974.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the customers who were heartbroken by the news.

He started off a tweet with a single word: "Ouch."

"Surprised at how much this hurts," he added, saying The Main, according to him, had Montreal's "best" smoked meat.


When Fred Serre dined out at The Main last week — not knowing it would be his last meal there — there was already a glass of wine waiting for him.

"I'm going to miss those little touches," he said in an interview Monday evening.

Like many other longtime customers, he was shocked to learn the restaurant had suddenly closed. "It's happened so quickly. Nobody saw it coming from nowhere."

The owner of the restaurant could not be reached Monday, but Serre said he was told by people working there that the high cost of food and labour were the main reasons for closing down. One employee had been working there for about 35 years.

The closure also coincided with the birthday of the manager, who Serre said was "quite upset."

With The Main gone, it marks at least three local delis on the same strip closing for good in the last year-and-a-half, after Hungarian deli Charcuterie Fairmount and Spécialité Slovenia Boucherie Charcuterie.

"I just thought that The Main Deli would be one of the places that continues to survive despite everything," Serre said. "Sadly, it didn't happen."

Longtime fans of the eatery also expressed their shock at the sudden closure on social media.

On Facebook, Alissa Silver wrote, "Sad to see this iconic establishment gone."

"Too bad," wrote Rich Stowe. "I would go there when the line was nuts at Schwartz's."

With files from CTV News Montreal's Stéphane Giroux