The destination and the journey
In the industrial neighbourhood of Saint Henri, bordered by abandoned silos and the towering pink house, is nightlife destination Riverside.
As you approach, the venue stands out with its lit up sign of bright blue, yellow and violet. The entrance leads to a space that is industrial with a warm glow. Hundreds of disco balls hang from the wooden beamed ceiling, with hundreds more vines draped from beams and hanging lights. Greenery fills the space with an emerald jungle energy, and yet it still feels spacious.
That openness is met with a sense of closeness with the banquettes of amber and red in the interior space, and pale green on the terrace. The organic shapes and solid colours give a sheek retro feel to the space, matching comfort with cool. This is a space to converse, to catch up, and moreover — to have fun.
At 1750 sqft, the interior space holds cocktail parties for 175 people and banquet dinners for 100. On the 1600 sqft terrace, cocktail parties of 120 and seated dinners for 90. With the entire outdoor space, cocktail parties of 500 or guests for seated dinners of 300 enjoy the 3200 sqft of space.
The intention at Riverside is to create an experience to remember from the parking lot all the way to the canal. A seasonal venue open exclusively for events before and after the summer season, and open to both the public and events for the summer months, Riverside has consistently found ways to stay relevant with their unusual business model.
The conceptualist and challenge-seeker
Justin Jolin, the owner of Riverside, is currently in Puerto Rico dreaming up the next ideas for Riverside. Everything from the layout to the details, like the eye-catching ice bar, is his way of expressing his creativity in a tangible form. Anyone who comes through and spends an evening can feel not only the level of attention in designing such a space, but the passion behind it as well.
“I have books and books and books of ideas and innovations,” he says over the phone. “I have this big design in my head that I’m actually starting to work on this week.”
From Canmore to Concordia, he has been seeking out challenges and turning them into successes. With a past behind the bar and a present designing it, the nightlife world wouldn’t let him go, and Saint-Henri is better for it. He is someone who can have an elaborate vision and execute it grandly, while keeping the local crowd in mind.
Supporting local businesses, hosting fundraisers and hiring from the local community is a priority for Jolin. With employees living in the nearby area, and the local clientele, it makes for a friendly and welcoming environment. Jolin says this feeling of home is what drives his passion for creating and developing the space.
Sitting is passé, experiences are the now
From billiards to bubble soccer, Jolin’s focus is on creating space to do things together rather than only sitting, having a drink, and eating. With more companies looking to create events for their teams along that same principle, Riverside is the ideal space to come for a memorable experience. It has a volleyball and basketball court, ping pong tables, and a slack line. For those looking to have a more casual experience, there are picnic tables out back on a slab of sand.
With the first pandemic summer forcing everything outside, an ice cream parlor brought both business and joy to Riverside and its loyal crowd. The second year around, it was the addition of Café Malté, an ode to the malting silos next door and Montreal’s love for third wave coffee shops.
This past summer, Riverside had over 150 events in 90 days. Their packages for corporate events and collaboration with Planned make the event planning process easier, so the focus can be on the fun.
Whether you choose the enchanting interior, the terrace onlooking the silos, the colourful casual space further out or hanging by the canal — it’s a happening place. The balance of vibrancy and moodiness creates a subtle glam that would make any evening memorable. It’s no surprise that Riverside is the site of choice for some movie shoots as well.
Their latest pop-up project was the ice bar, opening in December for an off-season experience.
This past year, Riverside’s largest party hosted over 800 guests successfully. Despite the feat in numbers, Jolin says the most memorable was for SAQ — who used the entire space from one end to the other. Through and through, his intention is to have people using the space to its fullest potential, maximizing the space and experience in tandem.
See the stunning interior and exterior of Riverside in their gallery here.
An atmosphere that can't be duplicated
The seasonal nature of the venue has been a welcome challenge for Jolin that led to innovation and success, and suits his ideal lifestyle of leaving for a few months to come up with next year’s plans.
Jolin says, “What is so special — to me — is that it’s seasonal.” His focus is staying relevant, which means capitalizing on the full potential of the outdoor space. With a retractable roof for the terrace, the city’s knack for taking advantage of the outdoors in the four months of summer can happen whatever the weather.
For 2023, they have a transparent tent coming for the open space past the terrace, and the sand will be replaced with a 60 ft wooden deck to rework the area for upcoming weddings and events.
The crowd often comes from Westmount and West Island, with a natural merging of the locals and event attendees. Lately, people have been coming from even farther out, like Mile End, proving its title as a destination.
With such a venue in such an environment, Jolin says of the silos, “It creates an atmosphere that can’t be duplicated.”
Riverside is a grand venue with a local pulse, and space for everyone.
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