As a Quebecer, you’ve definitely scarfed back your fair share of steamé hot dogs at La Belle Province over the years, but where did the iconic casse-croûte get its start?
There are currently more than 125 La Belles spread out across Quebec but it all started at one single spot in the late 1960s.
La Belle Province was born in 1967 in the heart of downtown Montreal.
According to the restaurant chain’s history on its website, Nick Glezos and Peter Kivetos opened the first La Belle on Ste. Catherine in 1967. The following year, a major fire destroyed the building and it was rebuilt and moved to 8660 rue Sherbrooke in Montreal-Est, where it’s still functioning.
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It became the first Belle Pro in all of Quebec and two other locations (Taschereau Boulevard in Saint-Hubert and Boulevard Gouin in Roxboro) popped up in subsequent years.
The first La Belle Province had only five choices on its original menu: steamé hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, poutine, and its famous smoked meat sandwich.
Perhaps most iconically, the restaurant followed the now-conventional ordering process of having the cooks and service staff prepare the food right in front of customers — the La Belle Province way.
In the 1990s, Belle Pro experienced its true expansion. More than 80 new locations popped up throughout the decade, making it one of the most popular fast food joints in Quebec.
During the ’90s, La Belle Province was redesigned retro, styling itself like old American diners: colourful leather banquettes, jukeboxes, and stainless steel service counters.
By the 2000s, the number of restaurants across Quebec eclipsed 100. In 2012, new restaurants opted for modernization of their interiors but opted to keep the vintage details of their five-decade history.
So next time you’re craving a poutine and a few steamés, why not consider checking out the original location to add a bit of history to your cravings?
The original La Belle Province is open every day from 10 am to midnight and until 1 am on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
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