Wilensky's celebrates 85 years in the Mile End
"I wish I was [the one] celebrating 85 years," Ruth Wilensky joked on Monday afternoon, as the restaurant that's been in her family for decades marked a special anniversary.
Moe Wilensky opened Wilensky's Light Lunch in 1932 at the corner of St. Urbain and Fairmount, where it remained until moving to its current location at 34 Fairmount West in 1952. His wife, Ruth, took over after he passed away in 1982.
Famous for its Special (salami and bologna with mustard on a kaiser roll), Wilensky's has been a Mile End main stay (and a Montreal mainstay) for 85 years. Owned and operated by Moe and Ruth Wilensky's kids, Asher and Sharon, since 2012, Wilensky's is still very much part of the fabric of Montreal.
In addition to the Special, Wilensky's is known for its strict no-tipping policy, and has always donated any tips from customers to Sun Youth and other various charitable organizations in and around Montreal. Sid Stevens and Sun Youth were on hand to mark the occasion, accepting non-perishable food donations just outside the front door.
"They go out there and make a difference," said Stevens. "We're very, very happy with the support that we've received because it's an invitation for others to do likewise."
Wilensky's was featured in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordechai Richler's novel about a poor Jewish boy growing up in Montreal. Several scenes in the film version of the book were actually shot inside the restaurant.