Café Le Cagibi has long held down the fort as a sort of (meta)physical gateway to Mile End at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Viateur. Yet after more than a decade—and amidst a strip dizzyingly gentrifying—the iconic café and show venue is moving on up.

Faced with—among other things—rent spikes north of 200%, Le Cagibi has opted to restructure. The metamorphosis actually began over a year ago, says Jess Lee, one of the proprietors. “As a group we tackled the issue of our lease, discussed landlord negotiations, and weighed pros, cons and feasibility of our various options,” she says.

“We decided moving was the best option.”

The iconic Mile End strip of St-Viateur between St-Laurent and Parc, built and popularized by places like Le Cagibi, has been gentrifying for years. Yet the gradual price edging of yesteryear has tipped over into something of a point of no return.

As documented by Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy, Le Cagibi’s rent increase came at the hands of Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, proprietors of upwards of seven properties on the strip, in addition to properties housing the controversial Starbucks in Marché Jean-Talon and the (now defunct) Gordon Ramsay remake of Le Laurier BBQ.

Yet according to Lee, there’s a silver lining to all this jazz. “Cagibi has always tried to provide a space for employees to learn and develop new skills and take on projects they’re excited about. The coop really formalizes this and takes it to the next level, allowing more folks to access the work, responsibilities and profits of ownership,” she says, noting that the new space will allow employees “to have more input into how the business runs,” and that regular nonworking members are also set to “benefit financially by receiving profits of the business and be able to choose where and how money goes back into the business.”

As such, Le Cagibi will join a growing cadre of city co-ops, such as nearby Touski and Divan Orange. The latter two proved particularly inspiring to Le Cagibi, according to Lee. “(These co-ops) were doing similar business operations and Touski provided us with an understanding of their structure which we definitely used as a springboard for discussing our own.”

So when will Le Cagibi as we know it be dissappearing? Having held its final show, the latest word is that current Le Cagibi will close around April 3rd. Lee says that the new space—on St-Zotique near St-Laurent—is slated to be open “as soon as possible… in time for Spring.”

The food menu might see some changes, though the details are still being hammered out.

As for the fate of the iconic Mile End of St-Viateur east of St-Laurent, things are much less certain.

“I think it just becomes more palpable and stark as financial capital begins to explicitly dominate the landscape,” says Lee of the changes. “But I think there’s a lot of resistance in Mile-End to allowing things to progress and a lot of continuous local support for long standing neighbourhood institutions.  I think the real estate corporations buying into the neighbourhood are aiming to make Mile End a new Griffintown or Notre Dame in St. Henri, but in my opinion, they’re overshooting in their expectations.”

“If they continue to blow out the locale economy,” she says, “in five years time my guess is there will be many unrented facades, a lot of business turnover and a few boutique operations or multi-national corporations using their storefront as advertising rather then as a points of sale.”

Cagibi has a fundraising campaign, where you can also find out about joining the collective

Featured image via Flickr/bittermelon / Creative Commons reuse.

What do you get when you blend the creative outlets of short film, music and literature? You get the conglomerate known as Hollis Quarterly: as ambitious as it is inspiring, Ontario native Brandon Shantz is the brains behind what has become, literally, a symphony.

Taking his anecdotes and turning them into short films (I recommend checking out Poor Shrooms), taking his songs and turning them into wild live performances, and taking his concepts and turning them into a novel about a 24-year old man set on self-immolating at Disney World, that, in a nutshell, is the merry-go-round of Hollis Quarterly.

The latest incarnation of Hollis Quarterly was performing on Thursday (August 21st) at Cagibi; I say “latest incarnation” because Hollis Quarterly has seen several aesthetic makeovers throughout the years, from classical backing bands to member changes. With just two weeks of jam sessions under their belt, the performance was a testament to the instrumental skill of its current members (Shantz on guitar and vocals, Frances Lebel on drums and backing vocals, Jevon Ellison on bass and backing vocals and Paul De Rita on lead guitar), as they pulled together a tight set of heavy jams. Songs were laden with lyrical content that ripped at the heart and packed with powerful melodies, leaving plenty of room for beautiful musical sweet spots.

But Hollis Quarterly proves yet again to be in constant flux, a project of tenuous transience, as it has been announced that their bass player will be moving to Australia in ten days.

Says Shantz of the project, “The internet makes it easy to get things out to an audience. I think having reliable releases and innovative, eclectic work in a variety of forms on a ridiculously low budget will attract people. There’s a business model to it as well that I think will be an interesting experiment.” Planning to do seasonal EP releases, accompanied by short film and sections of his novel, he intends to have it all unleashed on the world by Christmas 2015.

Like many Canadian artists, Shantz has been, and will be, using Canadian arts grants to accomplish projects, and if the success of Thursday’s performance is evidence of things to come, this writer suggests keeping an eye on Hollis Quarterly, as this multi-faceted experience unfolds.