It was 1968, during the time Gibby and Allan worked in their father’s business selling office and restaurant supplies, where our story begins. Having a front row seat of many eating establishment’s planning, meant that they took part in the “behind the scenes” of the thriving Montreal culinary landscape. This where they learned to take a concept of space and potential, from the planning stages to the launch of a successful restaurant. They gained invaluable expertise offering their clients the right equipment, assisting with layouts, witnessing various kitchen designs, seating arrangements, decor and other intangibles. They were caught up in the excitement of each restaurant opening and upgrade, spending hours talking about what they loved, who got it right, and how things could be improved. It is safe to say their love of the dining experience became part of the future magic of Gibbys.
This was the incubation period, as they both started their families in the 60’s. They were a close knit pair and enjoyed their down time together skiing with their young children in the little Laurentian hamlet’s Parish of St-Saveur. At that time, they often complained that there weren’t many good places to dine in the area. The restrictive alcohol permit process in this town meant that opening up new restaurants was a challenge, so, there were very few good places to eat and some were only seasonal.
One day, a customer of theirs had overheard they were looking to buy a chalet in St Sauveur. He owned a converted four bedroom house which he rented to a seasonal Crêperie. They went to see it and something happened during that visit. It was different than they had expected. It was quaint and charming with a fireplace, plenty of parking and room to grow. What if they bought the entire property, not as a family chalet, but as a restaurant? This could be the place where all of their knowledge and love of dining out could be put to use and flourish. They could build their own steak house with a great ambiance, fine dining experience, and included all their favorite dishes. It was small, but Gibby and Allan loved it.
It was well known that these brothers were a great compliment to each other, and they remained so their whole lives. The excitement grew; they had connections, they could find the right people, and the right suppliers. This was really going to happen.
Originally the idea was between two friends and the brothers, then one friend declined, so they became three. Gibby was the visionary and they all insisted they should call it Gibbys. The funny part was that he in no way wanted it to be named after him. However, he finally agreed and that was the easiest of the decisions that came with opening up their first restaurant!
In their first year they ran the restaurant with no liquor license, no manager and little profit. Then they ran into Rudy in Montreal. He had extensive experience in the restaurant industry including running his own restaurant. Here was someone they trusted, someone they had helped, worked with and respected. He too was looking for a new opportunity and accepted the challenge. Rudy moved up to the Laurentians and was part of the Gibby’s legacy for the next 20 years! That is how the first Gibbys restaurant started in Saint-Sauveur in 1969. The humble beginnings of a dream that started as a small, converted house, an old kitchen and 4 bedrooms upstairs. Their success at this locale gave them the confidence to look for another location in Montreal.