On a long, hot summer day, the clanging sounds of a train ricochet across garage doors and metal-sided buildings, filling the space between the integrated warehouses on the north end of l’Esplanade. It’s 4:50 p.m., and by no coincidence, the trickling in of bicycles, of transit-takers, of neighbourhood friends and fringe folk begins. Ten minutes to five means its time for a drink at Alexandraplatz.
Alexandraplatz, a small bar that operates out of a warehouse in the north of Mile-Ex, has become a friendly setting for residents of the surrounding neighbourhoods. Small groups of two or three walk and cycle the familiar route through an otherwise barren landscape of concrete and metal. For the unacquainted, like myself, seeing human faces at all led to a sigh of relief, a few quick turns, and the long benches at Alexandraplatz.
The bar itself was open, as if patiently waiting for me behind a large garage door — wooden tables decked the inviting yet minimalist space. Alexandraplatz is about to complete its fourth successful summer, opening its taps to a mix of working Montrealers who are thankful for a crisp cold beer during the summer months.
The name is both a nod to the neighbourhood and the original locale: a large intersection and metro station in Germany called Alexanderplatz. Once a site for civic discord and protest, the German Alexanderplatz has become a symbol for the unification between East and West. Berlin’s East side is now a tourist destination, marked by art collectives and small communities who have transformed an urban sprawl once under communist rule into techno hubs and grunge bars. After traveling to Berlin, the owner of this Montreal bar, Bernadette Houde, was inspired.
Bernie, who co-founded Dépanneur Le Pick-Up with her friend, Penny Pattison, opened the bar in an empty warehouse owned by a regular customer.
Spinning the industrial landscape into a thriving bar scene was done with purpose and success in the once underwhelming warehouse district of Berlin. Today, local spots like Alexandraplatz reveal a similar shift for the Mile-Ex area, where an industrial past has left many scattered warehouses.
Sometimes, moving far from the pulsing arteries of the city’s heart is like a breath of fresh air in an industry that can barely find one. Alexandraplatz proves that in all areas, however obscure, there is never a shortage of people ready for an enjoyable and friendly 5 à 7. The comfortable and casual bar encourages the community in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie to join in and has become a beautiful reminder that Montreal’s small neighborhoods all deserve celebration.
While the atmosphere is enough to bring curious drinkers from the downtown core, Alexandraplatz has a lovely selection of refreshing beers at an affordable price of $4 a glass, and $6 to $7 a pint. With brewers Vieux-Montreal, Alexandraplatz also offers its own specialty IPA.