“People are always welcome here. All I want is to keep everybody happy”. At 88, Hyman Sckolnick, the owner of Montreal’s Beautys, still has one thing on his mind: making sure everyone who walks through the door of his 1942 luncheonette leaves in high-spirits.
Every day, he sits at the corner of the counter, welcoming the locals, tourists and celebs that all line up for their share of happiness.
“Don’t you feel like after 68 years you could take a day off? I mean, Beautys is an institution now…”, I ask.
“I’m from the oldschool, I was born to work. I only have one baby. Beautys, it’s not like a chain. I have customers that have been coming here for 50 years. Now their kids come, and their grandkids too. I just want everyone to be happy”, he says.
Sckolnick and I talk about the menu. I’m mostly just saying thank you for the delicious Beautys Special (a Montreal St-Viateur bagel, with loads of cream cheese, smoked salmon, onions and tomato), which I just devoured back in the blue vintage booth. Maybe I’ll order an oreo cookie milkshake. The banana pancakes seem pretty delightful too. Damn. Why is it so hard to make these types of decisions?
As I lose myself in a vivid internal glutton debate, Sckolnick gets up, crosses to the opposite side of the counter and reaches for a black and white photograph of a lovely lady standing behind a milkshake stand wearing a white blouse and apron.
“That’s Freda. My wife. We were married for 66 years. She passed away two years ago. When I met her, I was working in a snack bar. She was working in a factory”, he says.
Together, they opened Beautys. Initially a candy store, it slowly turned into a dinner as people started asking for bagels and eggs.
I swear, Sckolnick didn’t notice, but looking at him looking at the picture of his wife was making me tear up.
He takes the photo in his hands. “You know, Frida, she’s the one who told me…if you’re gonna serve, make sure it’s fresh or don’t serve it”.
And fresh it is! From my Beautys Special to the famous hot-dog, salami, green pepper and onion Mish-Mash omelet, Sckolnick shows men across the world that it pays off to listen to their lady.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 3pm on weekdays, from 7am to 4pm on Saturdays, and from 8am to 4pm on Sundays. Also note that Beautys serves a great lunch involving a wide range of delish salads, sandwiches and burgers.
It’s funny… sometimes you meet a person, sometimes you meet them for only a matter of minutes, and without them even knowing, they have a big impact on your life.
That’s how I felt this morning when Hyman Sckolnick shared his story with me… the story of Freda, the story of Montreal and the story of Beautys.
As I left his restaurant, it suddenly wasn’t about the bagels, the oreo cookie milkshake or the banana pancakes anymore.
It was pouring rain outside, but I didn’t care.
I was happy.
Insider Tip: if you don’t want to wait on the weekends, make sure you arrive before 10am. Beautys also does take out and is conveniently located right next to Mount-Royal. If you read between the lines you’ll understand that spells “picnic”.
Fresh homemade breakfast, lunch and desert
93 Mont-Royal West