At St-Viateur Bagel, 60 years of the 'best bagels in the world'

One of the longest-running bagel shops in Montreal, St-Viateur is a landmark that churns out millions of bagels a year. Its 60th anniversary celebration raised more than $60,000 for charity.

Montreal bakery celebrates birthday by raising more than $60K for charity

Thousands turned out for a party celebratin 60 years of the St-Viateur bagel shop on Sunday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

St-Viateur Bagel has been baking the same hand-rolled bagels at the corner of Saint-Viateur and Jeanne-Mance streets for 60 years.

One of the longest-running bagel shops in Montreal, St-Viateur is a landmark that churns out millions of bagels a year.

"People love our bagels and love that we haven't changed," said co-owner Vince Morena. "We do things the old fashioned way."

Vince Morena is one of three brothers who helped take over the family business. (CBC)

In celebration of their anniversary, the family-run company held a community block party in front of their original bakery Sunday afternoon.

"I feel like it's seventh heaven," said former owner Joe Morena, who was 14 when he started working at St-Viateur Bagel.

"My family is here, my grandchildren are here, half of Montreal are here."

He went on to buy half the store in 1974, and now at 69 years old, he's passed the family business down to his three sons.

Rolling forty dozens per hour

Thousands of people were in attendance at the party, where free bagels were handed out as fast as the bakers could turn them out.

At one point, it was so busy that they were rolling 480 bagels in a single hour.

The St-Viateur block party meant free bagels being handed out at top speed. It got so busy they were rolling up forty dozens per hour. (CBC)

The block party also served as a fundraiser for the Foundation of Stars, a group that supports pediatric research in Quebec.

The fundraising goal of $60,000 was surpassed in donations, merchandise and food sales during the afternoon event.

Building a brand

After six decades, St-Viateur Bagel now has eight bakeries located across the city and ships nationwide.

Joe Morena, who has been with the company for 55 years, has many fond memories of working in the shop.

Joe Morena started working at St-Viateur when he was just a teenager. Now he's been with the company 55 years. (CBC)

One order, he says, sticks out: the day Prince Charles of Wales ordered 20 dozen bagels.

"I told them 'okay come.' I figure someone is playing a prank. They didn't want to wait in line, right?" said Morena. "But I didn't read the papers so I didn't know. Half an hour later I see four limosines."

'Best bagels in the world'

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was also on hand to celebrate to the anniversary Sunday afternoon.

"We may have been beaten by the Rangers in hockey, but we have the best bagels in the world," he told the crowd.

Thousands of people came out to support the Foundation of Stars and celebrate the 60th anniversary. (CBC)

With files from Navneet Pall