Out on the Town, Student Life

La Lumière du Mile End opens its doors to the city’s students

La Lumière du Mile End, a vegan café located on Rue Bernard Ouest, is nestled deep in the heart of the Mile End. The eatery offers a desirable Tuesday combo for McGill students: A five dollar meal and a tranquil study space. In an effort to attract Montreal’s student population, La Lumière du Mile End created a special study environment for students. In an initiative that began this October, the café remains open from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday nights, catering exclusively to students in search of a tranquil study place.

“We’re open seven days [from] 11 [a.m.] to 8 [p.m.], but we find it’s quieter in the winter months,” Karyn Gabriel, owner of La Lumière du Mile End, said. “So, I had the idea [of opening] the space to students and [letting] them use it to study.”

The neighbourhood spot has been open for 10 years and has become a favourite among locals craving comfort food: It serves everything from dairy-free grilled cheese sandwiches to their signature burritos. Students can order a soup and tea combo for five dollars, and, as of last August, La Lumière du Mile End has become 100 per cent vegan.

I wanted to see how the transition went with all our regulars,” Gabriel said. “Sometimes people don’t even notice the difference [of the vegan cheese]. We’re excited to be able to provide another vegan alternative in Montreal.”

The owner hopes that the unique, student-centric environment at La Lumière du Mile End will become popular among Montreal’s university population. If that were the case, Gabriel could see herself expanding the initiative to include other nights of the week. To achieve this goal, the café is looking for more locals to help facilitate the volunteer-run gathering.

“My idea is to have a rotation of volunteers […] oversee [the café] from 7 [p.m.] to 10 [p.m.] [on Tuesdays],” Gabriel said.  “[The volunteers] can study as well [and take advantage of the five dollar deal] we’ll be offering. If there’s demand for it, we can see about doing it more nights during the week. It’s all about the volunteers we get. ”

Though, for many students, studying at the café may require venturing off campus, Gabriel stressed that La Lumière is easily accessible by metro and bus. The proximity of public transport is especially convenient in the winter. Sara Jardak, a volunteer at La Lumière du Mile End and social work student at Université de Montréal, explained that, like, many campus libraries, the café is situated in a convenient location, but its relaxing environment makes it conducive to studying.

“I enjoy cafés for studying as the ambience is less prone to anxiety and stress levels of other students,” Jardak said. “It’s also a good place to meet other students. I think [La Lumière] is a very convivial space. The lighting there, and Karyn’s energy and playlist are inviting and full of warmth.”

For students looking to venture beyond the McGill bubble and connect with greater Montreal, La Lumière du Mile End is a unique study alternative. The accessible location and student friendly meal deal make it a convenient place to study or socialize.

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