The newest restaurant, Massa, located in Monkland village of NDG just opened up today and I was eager to see if it was worth the wait. There was a sign saying they were opening soon… and soon seemed to take forever!
Especially when you consider that was previously no Greek restaurant inside Monkland village.
So let’s talk about the Greek thing…
Right off the bat, you know that by virtue of being Greek, they are likely to have some culinary skills. After all, it might be a stereotype, but it seems as if Greeks have a dominant hand on the food industry so I had high expectations when walking into the restaurant.
One thing I love about new restaurants is that they try really hard to give the best possible service. Like someone on a first date, they were giving it their all in order to make that best first impression. And.. that’s alright. You know it’s not going to be like that forever, but it IS what you expect as a first impression. The staff was extremely friendly and the team of waiters were perfect. You felt welcomed, they were attentive while not overbearing and they made sure that you had the best dinning experience possible. It was a great start!
In terms of appearance, they went for a classy, modern black and white look which was well executed but seemed to be missing something. As if your cousin had put on a black suit and tie, you could tell it was nice on the outside, but slightly out of place in terms of congruence. When you feel like a Mom’and’pop kind of family place, you’re not expecting the black and white feel of the Massa restaurant. That should be reserved for places with valet parking, wine cellars and luxury restaurants, which this is clearly not.
Yes, it’s nice… but it’s not congruent. I would be more likely to return to a place that feels “homey” compared to a place that feels like I should have dressed up for… but the conundrum is that IF I had dressed up to go there, I would have felt seriously out of place.
This isn’t something that’s going to make or break Massa (and let’s be honest, it’s too late to change now), but I would recommend picking one demographic of customers and concentrating on them. Are you going for high end customers? (Doubtful) Medium range? Low but high volume? Right now it feels as if Massa is trying to please everyone… and that’s the fastest way to fail as a business.
What do I mean?
Well… take the menu (hrm, flyer) that they are passing out.
It looks FANCY. Everything from the font selection, to the black and white appearance screams class. But then they ruin it by saying: “Finally in your neighborhood” and “Livraison” (Delivery). You flip it over and you have relatively expensive and inexpensive prices.
Listen, if you’re going to be fancy and aim for luxury, then your flyer shouldn’t also be a take-out menu. That should be reserved for cheap pizza joints.
While speaking of in-congruence, if you’re going to try to have the appearance of fancy, then your prices should match the look. In the same way that I would look awkward stepping out of a 1992 Toyota Collora wearing a $2000 Armani suit and $17000 Rolex watch, ordering a $5.75 pork gyro pita at a place that looks like Massa is a little odd.
I believe that the first misconception is that they believe that people want fancy, modern looking decor when in reality, customers want something that feels “right” and comfortable. We don’t mind fancy, but you have to be authentic about it. If you’re going for value oriented meals for the population of NDG, then you shouldn’t be acting like that… and instead, you should be looking to be better than your competition for Greek food: Villa de Soulvaki on Sherbrooke.
Ultimately, people will forgive a lot if the food is good. How does it taste? Is it healthy? Fresh? Priced appropriately? Do I want more?
To sum it up, the food was decent and I would have it again if I was nearby with no alternatives. I had what I believe is the benchmark of a Greek restaurant: A plate with a chicken Souvlaki skewer, potatoes, rice and some greek salad. It was alright but nothing hugely memorable.
But is tasty chicken enough? Would it keep me coming back? Well… no. It’s not nearly good enough to keep me thinking about it the next day (or even for the next few hours). And even when you compare it to the other Greek restaurant in NDG, Villa de Soulvaki, I’d say their chicken is the same (or better) and less expensive.
If you’re in Monkland village without a car and you want some Greek food… then Massa Grilladerie is a good choice. You’ll walk away with a smile on your face because the staff is so nice and you won’t care that you just ate average (but still tasty) food. If you’re working next door, then you’ll probably enjoy some of the cheaper options… because at $5-6 per pita, you can have a decent meal for cheap.
But if you’re in NDG (as opposed to specifically inside Monkland village), then the food and prices are better at Villa De Souvlaki, which is what I believe is their main competition. Sure, it’s not as nice inside… but at least it’s congruent. I’ll take better food and cheaper price any day. And if I want something fancy, there’s no way I’m going to either of those two places.
So what do we do from here? Missa, located at 5611 Avenue Monkland, has a great foundation and a superb location so they have a few things going for them. They need to improve their menu and further refine it so the FOOD keeps you coming back. (Is the chicken better with Tzatziki? Why not include a tiny sample of it with the platter?) Replace those fries with some real potatoes and do something about the rice!
I’d personally rather have 2 sticks of chicken, no rice, some delicious potatoes and more Greek salad instead of the 1 stick of chicken with fillers (rice and fries). Make the food a reason to come back and people will!
Otherwise, you’ll probably ‘make it’, but you won’t be driving a Ferrari like the Yeh owner does.
And that’s how it’s done,