Knuckles Cantine et Vins
Montreal hotspot creates shoppable videos with cooking shows to critical and commercial acclaim.
What happens when a restaurant focused on community, family recipes, and intimate close-knit relationships opens during a pandemic?
“We innovate,” says owner and founder Matthew Shefler. “Each day, we work with fresh and local ingredients from our suppliers and make them tell a story for our clients. This year, we had to look at the current circumstances from the same point of view. With most of our country in lockdown, we said, ‘Let’s tell a story.’”
Knuckles Cantine et Vins, a Montreal-based hotspot in the trendy neighbourhood of Jarry Park, has been open for mere months and is already the place to grab a bite, having been featured in Tastet, Eater, La Presse, and the country’s hottest food blogs as “the restaurant opening of 2020.” The local’s favourite is the panzerotti with a recipe directly from Matthew’s grandmother – or a made-by-hand concept, using organic, local ingredients, for the price of a modest lunch.
“From the beginning, I wanted this to be a place to gather,” said Matthew, while working to prepare the day’s mis-en-place with chef Vincent Levesque Lepage. “It’s a unique situation we’re in; due to such a short time, our restaurant has become a destination... but with the pandemic, our challenge was to keep this state and enhance the sense of community built around us.”
“Ahead of the holidays, there were two objectives. At first, with the likelihood of increasing lockdowns for restaurants, we wanted to source innovative, interactive solutions for maintaining monthly sales. At the second, perhaps the most important one, we wanted to show our community we were with them.”
Mailing individual packages of ingredients and natural wine to select customers around their city, the Knuckles team hosted an interactive cooking class with gift cards available for purchase.
“Everyone was delighted,” says Matthew. “We sold more than anticipated and will keep this as a core part of our strategy long after the pandemic.”