Quebec has been battling subzero temperatures for weeks, leading to the pipe issues.
Joe Beef
Photo courtesy of Joe Beef / Alain Lefort

Joe Beef is one of Montreal’s gastronomical landmarks, but if you plan on dropping into the steak and seafood specialist now that it’s returned from its holiday break, you may want to cut the restaurant some slack on its wine selection. According to Quebec’s Le Devoir, the iconic eatery lost its wine cellar when extreme cold led to a pipe break on New Year’s Eve, drowning the storage area in water.

Though the extended holiday break should have been a time for Chef David McMillan to relax, turns out it was anything but. Montreal rang in the New Year with a run of temperatures as low as the negative 20s, and the cold caused problems at all three of McMillan and his team’s neighboring restaurants: Joe Beef, Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon. The latter two spots were the first to be hit with water damage from pipes, but McMillan said the biggest damage came later when the pipe issue spread to Joe Beef. “We lost our collection wine cellar,” he told Le Devoir. “We will see if we are entitled to insurance, but it is certain that it will cost us dearly.”

The paper suggests the restaurants had to shell out over $15,000 CAD to make sure they were ready to open yesterday as planned. “We are 70 employees in 3 restaurants,” McMillan added. “We cannot afford to close, so we did everything to get the job done so we could open.”

As Eater Montreal points out, all three restaurants had already been closed for over a week before the accident – likely part of the reason the pipes froze to begin with – but though holidays were certainly ruined, a possible silver lining is that the popular dining spots didn’t lose any business from having to make an additional shut down. Still, unlike food, which tends to turnover quickly anyway, losing contents in a wine cellar would seem far more frustrating. It’s not clear to what extent the wines within the cellar were destroyed: Here’s hoping some were salvaged.