Ben’s is dead. Long live Ben’s?

Taking “a day late and a dollar short” to its extreme, there’s plans for a protest next week to keep the Ben’s deli building out of the hands of developers.

Now, you might say “but the building isn’t architecturally interesting at all”, and you would be right. It was only built 50 years ago. You also might note the minor details that the restaurant closed months ago, the building has already been sold, and nobody cared about it when it was in business.

I went to Ben’s once in my life. I went in with a friend, looking to get some breakfast. We left 20 minutes later, still hungry, because nobody came to take our order.

Good riddance.

One thought on “Ben’s is dead. Long live Ben’s?

  1. princess iveylocks

    I have to challenge this on principle… yes, the building looks drab to us, but that does not mean it isn’t architecturally significant. They need to make a better case for its classification as “Streamline Moderne” (1950 seems awfully late…), but age and appearance don’t denote architectural relevance. If Ben’s legitimately is a notable example of midcentury Montreal architecture, thinking before wrecking is in order. That’s probably their strongest argument. (The “Trudeau burped here” is backup ammo.)

    That said, I’m struggling to make out what precisely these protesters want. Do they want to repurpose the building? If so, how? (Note that Heritage Buildings are usually occupied by existing businesses; that’s not a solution.) Another restaurant? Reestablishing Ben’s? Good luck with that. As you said, it wasn’t well-liked for some time before it closed.

    It’s better to transform a dead space than prop up a moribund one, and space is at a premium in that area. The conflation of “this architecture is neat” with “we liked Ben’s as a business and miss it” doesn’t work unless both the points stand alone, and you’ve shown they don’t.

    — the duchess of trafalgar does not like length restrictions in the “name” field of comment boxes.


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