Actor Hugh Grant speaks to reporters as he arrives at the St. James Hotel for the 20th anniversary of the Ferrari Challenge in Montreal on Saturday, June 8, 2013.
Photograph by: Justin Tang, The Gazette
Hockey players, athletes and Quebec personalities were out in droves this Grand Prix weekend, as Montreal’s scene was alive and high-kicking. Hollywood actors were greatly missed, however, even though many were expected at various events around town.
At a McLaren party at the Ritz on Friday, rumours swirled that Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman, who were in town shooting X-Men, might show up (they did not). The night before, high-rollers at a G.H Mumm Champagne event at Le Pois Penché bemoaned the news that Will Smith had cancelled his private shindig at the W Hotel.
Finally, Saturday night, another famous Hugh — actor Hugh Grant — arrived at Ferrari’s coveted VIP party at the St. James Hotel. The paparazzi swarmed, women swooned and just about everyone whipped out their smartphones to take a pic (or 10) of the star.
“He’s good, he’s really good. He has so much character,” said Maia Azzi, junior product manager for Armani at L’Oréal, chatting on the red carpet with her girlfriends, all dressed to the nines.
The trio recalled Grant’s movies: Bridget Jones, About a Boy.
At one point in the evening, the Rolling Stones were expected at the St. James Hotel, but they never made it to the party. Miss America, Mallory Hagan from New York, did attend, however. She mingled the night away, donning her crown and all.
Does she wear it all the time?
“Not when I sleep,” she joked. (She eventually removed it.)
X-Men director Bryan Singer also attended the Ferrari party at the St. James Hotel.
Grant stopped by Montreal hot spots Buonanotte and Cavalli over the weekend as the actor was one of Ferrari’s Grand Prix VIP guests.
“They’re good at showing a good time,” Grant said of his hosts.
The actor was last in Montreal in 1985.
Other than Hugh Grant, Paul Walker from the Fast and Furious films, and Jesse Palmer of The Bachelor fame, Montreal’s hot spot restaurants saw few Hollywood stars this year. Rather, the restaurants rollicked and raged thanks to athletes and race-car drivers and, of course, corporate clients galore.
At Buonanotte on Saturday night, Magnums of vodka were everywhere along with raised seafood platters with lobster heads, as companies like Playboy and Red Bull entertained top clients.
“It’s like Christmas party season, but during the (spring) time,” Buonanotte owner Massimo Lecas said of the corporate presence at the restaurant during Grand Prix.
Lecas explained why such companies keep coming back to his restaurant year after year: “It’s a tradition that we built. We were probably the first ones to pioneer catering to that type of clientele, and then it kept going thanks to word of mouth.”
Buonanotte was booked solid all Grand Prix weekend long. On Sunday, the restaurant was scheduled to throw its annual Grand Prix closing bash.
At Globe, Beatrice (formerly known as Bice), and the new Queue de Cheval, a similar scene of private and corporate parties prevailed.
Yet while patrons wined and dined, owners and staff spoke on the sly into cellphones and walkie talkies, swapping their big warm smiles for wide-eyed panic about looming threats from Montreal police.
According to restaurant owners on Peel St. and St. Laurent Blvd., Montreal police were on hyperactive duty for Grand Prix weekend, a time when many of these restaurants are making up for slow business during the winter months.
On Thursday, at around 1:30 a.m., Cavalli’s was shut down for violating its capacity. Patrons were told to leave, even if they had open tabs. The incident eerily echoed one from the previous weekend. On that Saturday at 12:15 a.m., the SPVM shut down Globe (also owned by Lecas) and seized the restaurant’s entire stock of alcohol while customers were also in the midst of wining and dining. After a hearing at the Superior Court of Quebec, the SPVM immediately returned Globe’s alcohol bottles.
Lecas, who made headlines this year with the Pastagate language debacle, knocked on a wooden portion of the bar at Buona Notte Saturday night.
“I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far tonight everything’s good,” he said.
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