While it was once a little hole in the wall, Aux Vivres is now a Montreal establishment synonymous with vegan culture.
Marie-Pierre Michaud opened the first location, initially called 'Les Vivres' on a sleepy Saint-Dominique street in 1997. You may remember its small and cozy, interior and eccentric waitstaff. With fresh menu selections updated daily, the little vegan resto was the first of its kind in Montreal and an instant hit with locals.
Soon after opening, Michaud hired Michael Makhan to work as a cook and dishwasher. It didn't take long for Mike to fall in love with the restaurant and the growing vegan community in and around Montreal. Then, in 2001, he became a co-owner. By 2003, he assumed full ownership and moved the restaurant from its original location to St. Laurent Boulevard.
Michael's younger brother Liam joined the team during Aux Vivres’s first expansion on St. Laurent, in 2005 initially as a designer and builder. Not long after, he took on a more central management role. Liam’s vision was felt through the restaurant as he breathed more life and into the now thriving organization.
Unlike the trope of rivalling siblings, Liam’s business sense and forward thinking complimented Michael's expert chef skills. As a combined force, there was no stopping them. Aux Vivres was destined for bigger and better things, some of which they would never have imagined.
Like in 2014 when they acquired a tempeh company called "Noble Bean" a Canadian company that dated back to the late 60's. After 35 years of production, they sold their brand to their most influential clients, the Makhan brothers at Aux Vivres.
Still passionate as ever, the two decided to expand their brand by bringing long-time Aux Vivres staff Shawn Arseneau, Charles Garant and Tera-May Cote onto their executive committee.
Shawn, a resourceful straight shooter who worked his way up from a line cook, was now in charge of systems management, recruitment and quality control. His tireless work ethic, and team player approach is a breath of fresh air in the restaurant industry.
Charles, who began as a juice barista and server, took on the role of client support, sales and growth. His contagious energy, charisma and smile earned him the nickname “the gas pedal.”
Finally, the cool calm and collected Terra May rounded out the team as the laser-focused sales rep and account manager. With years of experience as the head server, it’s no surprise that she was also the resident problem solver.
The newly assembled team’s first project was expanding the flagship restaurant into a new dining room and boutique, which took over a vacant restaurant and an old post office. This grew the seating areas from 80 to 150.
Then in 2015, they entered into the Ready-to-Eat market under the name, Aux Vivres Cuisine. Soon the restaurant’s beloved bowls, wraps and notorious sauces were hitting shelves, available in established stores like IGA, Sobey’s and Rachelle Béry’s well as Concordia University, St. Justine Hospital and Lufa Farms. As the business developed, they invested into building new kitchens and centralizing operations in the heart of Mile End.
Shortly after the distribution was beginning to boom, the team was at it again, looking for a location to open another Restaurant. After setting eyes on Westmount, Liam and Mike worked their magic on not only bringing a new Aux Vivres dining experience to life but a take-out counter and full vegan boutique as well. Still, in its infancy, it’s thriving with happy, satisfied customers.