When John E. Gumbley first got into the business of restaurants and nightclubs, Montreal didn’t have the types of fantastical venues he wanted to frequent. So, he created his own.

Fast forward to the present, and Gumbley has built a hospitality empire with his JEGantic food and beverage brand that has brought a new level of luxury to Montreal’s party scene. He’s a hands-on visionary who puts his unique stamp on everything he does, and you can see it in every minute detail of the visually stunning, experiential playgrounds he’s designed.

JEGantic’s unmistakable portfolio includes prohibition-era-inspired speakeasy Bord’Elle, golden-era hip-hop tiki bar The Farsides, and the piece de résistance: the fully immersive Nikkei fine dining establishment Yoko Luna on Mountain Street. And that just scratches the surface of the growing empire.

There are things you’ll see and taste at a JEGantic restaurant that you won’t experience anywhere else in Montreal, and that’s what drives Gumbley. For example, above the bar at Yoko Luna is a giant geisha statue that immediately screams opulence as you walk into the dining hall.

“There’s no contractor or designer who can build a place like Yoko Luna, besides the ones that actually built it of course” says Gumbley. “None of them could even figure out how to get that geisha built in Canada. I have the one contact, and I won’t share it with anyone”.

Gumbley is a true Montreal-born-and-bred rags-to-riches success story, so the confidence is merited. He grew up in abject poverty in Verdun. His father died when he was five, leaving him to care for his blind and deaf mother. Gumbley’s hard-scrabble life story is told in each of his venues. The bar at Farsides—made out of 80s and 90s collectibles like CDs and game controllers—takes on a whole new meaning when you realize these were the toys Gumbley dreamt of getting each Christmas but never got. This is why he created his own philanthropic initiative called One Magic Moment, dedicated to sharing his wealth and vision with children growing up in underprivileged circumstances. His goal is not just to build, but to give back, to share with and to inspire those less fortunate.

Through JEGantic, Gumbley also has the opportunity to live out his childhood fantasies as an adult. He often uses a diamond in his logos, and it’s to remind him of what he’s always been chasing. Only now does he get to share his indulgences with the entire city.


When you were younger and times were tough, was there a moment where you decided you needed to make it? I haven’t really thought about it before, but there is a moment. When I was younger, I thought I was running away from something. As I got older, I realized I was running towards something all this time. But I was still running. On the day my dad died when I was five, I remember vividly watching Superman. I fell asleep on the couch, and I remember waking up to my mom screaming. The ambulance was there. So, I ran and hid behind my door in my bedroom. That was probably the beginning of my chasing the diamond. I remember being terrified. I grew up around a lot of poverty, drugs, and violence, but even at a young age, I knew I needed to break the cycle and do the opposite of what I’d been exposed to. So that’s really how it all started.

You get to live out a lot of your dreams at your restaurants. I didn’t have a Super Nintendo. I couldn’t get the Patrick Ewings. Other kids had it. There was no hope for me. Forget about getting Jordan’s, you know? As I was growing up and started to make money, I started to get my own things. The Farsides is about the kid in me, creating a hip-hop wonderland with all these cool toys and things I wanted as a kid that I couldn’t have. I created my perfect playground in one place. It’s also a place where I could bring people and test their hip-hop knowledge because there are backstories to everything on the walls. You’ll find this out about all of my venues: there’s a meaning behind everything. When my team shares back-stories with our patrons, it immerses them in the concept because they get to understand there’s more to the place. It’s all about creating dreams and alternate realities.

I feel like that immerseveness is pretty unique in Montreal. This is the stuff that mostly exists in New York, Las Vegas, Miami, or Dubai. In Montreal, we’re a one-of-one. You’ll see a lot of ideas here and there, but it’s not a thought-out package that creates an environment. Nowadays, people are looking for an escape from their work week when they go out, and they’re entrusting you with their one night out a week. So, we create experiences where you can lose yourself.

Is Yoko Luna’s VIP mezzanine with nine exclusive Louis XIII cognac lockers the most baller thing you’ve ever done? There are less than 10 of them in the world, and we’re the only one in Canada. The individuals have their own key with access to their bottle, and from the moment they enter its white glove service. And this year, Louis XIII is bringing a three-star Michelin chef for those key holders. It’s really the kind of thing you don’t imagine Montreal even having, but we do.

JEGantic keeps growing. What are you planning for the future? I’m actually taking 3–4 months at the start of 2025 to reset. After that, will we do a hotel? Will we bring Farsides out to more suburbs, like we’re doing with our new Brossard location? Even just coming up, we’re doing a simple, authentic Shanghai-style restaurant next to our office, and we have an Italian supper club coming, called Bambino that I believe will be epic. Then maybe we’ll take these creations to other markets entirely, such as Dubai and/or Shanghai. We’ve already visited to get the lay of the land.

For more on John and his ever-expanding JEGantic empire, visit

By Jenn Campbell

Montreal-based luxury lifestyle social magazine. for lovers of: parties, solid fashion, fine eats, sexy escapes, the best in fitness and health trends, motivating quotage, good pop and other culture, celebrity fabulousness and the whole luxury lifestyle landscape in general.

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