Neighbourhood reeling from sudden demo of Deli-Pat after reno goes awry

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Owners were told to vacate the building when it began to collapse on Thursday.

A man named Don (right) offers his condolences and help to the husband of the owner of Deli-Pat on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in N.D.G. after the business was suddenly demolished. John Kenney / Montreal Gazette

Two days after a local convenience store was demolished, neighbourhood residents and business owners were still reeling by how quickly the building was torn down.

Deli-Pat, located in a two-storey building on Sherbrooke St. W., at the corner of Westmore Ave. near Concordia’s Loyola campus, was suddenly demolished Thursday, minutes after the couple who owned the store were told to vacate the building. A construction crew was working to renovate the building at the time.

“It was here, and then five minutes later, it was demolished,” said Carmen Ban, the owner of Terrace Cleaners, located a few doors down. “It’s really sad; it’s kind of a shock.

“It was gone with no warning,” Ban added. “I’m just glad no one else was inside at the time, because usually there are a lot of students from the high schools and university inside.”

Ban said work had begun days before to renovate the building and add a third storey. However, the owners of Deli-Pat had complained to her the building was shaking two days before it was torn down.

“They said it felt like the ceiling was going to cave in on them,” she said.

Cote-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough manager Stéphane Plante told CTV News this week city inspectors were called to the site when cracks were discovered in the foundation. The inspector then told the contractor to halt work and call an engineer but, before the engineer arrived, the building began to collapse. It was torn down because it posed a danger to public safety.

“It’s sad, but I’m not really too surprised; it didn’t really look safe what they were trying to do. They were trying to add a third storey,” said Colin Stephenson, a customer who has been coming regularly to Deli Pat for nearly a decade.

The owners of Deli-Pat watch as demolition takes place on their business Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in N.D.G.. John Kenney / Montreal Gazette

Stephenson didn’t know who was responsible for the work on the building but added: “It didn’t really look good, but I’m not an engineer.”

Dozens of people also reacted on Facebook about the sudden demolition, saying they will miss the store’s family-oriented owners.

“I am devastated. I went there a lot as a kid, and his summer, my son would walk up to get a Mr. Freeze every evening,” Barbara Sidorowicz posted on the site N.D.G. Living. “The owner even let him run a tab!!! I’ve know him for years (I mean, from going to the store) — always a smile, always a ‘how are you.’ ”

Local residents said an excavator was seen digging around the back of the building, near its foundation in the minutes before the demolition. In what was left of the foundation on Saturday, there were several large cracks apparent. Dust was wafting through the air as an excavator picked up debris and dropped it into a waiting dump truck.

Ban said the second-storey apartment had no tenants, and the building was recently sold. She said the owners of Deli-Pat spoke to her after the incident and said they were devastated in having their livelihood so quickly ripped away from them.

Deli Pat’s owner, who did not want to give her name, accepted condolences and offers of help from long-time customers. She said she and her husband were distraught and have not been able to sleep.  

Additional reporting by John Kenney