12/15/2014 03:29 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST

Musi-Cafe, Restaurant At Centre Of Lac-Megantic Disaster, Reopens


MONTREAL - The restaurant-bar at ground zero of the deadly train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec in July 2013 is back in business.

The Musi-Cafe quietly opened its doors to the public in Lac-Megantic on Monday, about 400 metres from the original site.

Owner Yannick Gagne said only three of the original employees have returned to work with him in his new establishment.

"One of them is my chef, a friend," he told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.

"I have a girl who worked for me for three or four years — she's coming back — and one of my good friends, Karine Blanchette, will handle all the artists who will come here."

At the time of the disaster, Blanchette told reporters two children were left orphans after one of her friends died in the tragedy.

Many of the 47 victims were inside the Musi-Cafe when a runaway oil-tanker train rolled off the tracks and exploded in the heart of the town.

Gagne lost three workers in the blast and about a dozen have decided not to come back to work with him.

He now has a staff of about 20, which is five more employees than before.

Gagne also said that on Monday, not a lot of people showed up during the morning and that there was also a small crowd at lunch.

He added he believes the locals probably assumed the new place would be crowded.

Gagne, who had financing problems in the past, said the new restaurant-bar will cost $1.5 million when all the bills are finally paid.

But he is getting financial help.

"We have had confirmation that the federal government will be there to help us," he said.

"The provincial government has provided a loan, a financial bridge (and) we'll be able to finish the project and pay everybody."

Gagne is planning an official "red carpet and champagne" opening in February.