Sébastien Abrieu, the owner of the rooster-style breakfast room on Beaubien Street, saw a coronavirus press conference held by Premier François Legault last week The grandmother hen, learned three things: More threatening virus variants keep going; Although the situation in Montreal remains stable, the third wave across the province is well underway. and minus that, his hope to revive his terrace for al fresco dining might have to wait.
Abrieu and his partner Catherine Laforest had extensively renovated and made the breakfast place an all-day affair. They included a cocktail bar and a new design to match the burger-and-shakes offering they’d imported from their successful Mont St-Hilaire restaurant Shack attack. They had expected a spring patio to bring some relief when they made these costly changes.
“So I thought, what if we could use this big, beautiful park right in front of us?” Abrieu remembers. He is referring to Molson Park, a six-acre green space flanked on three sides by the neighborhood’s nearly hundred-year-old maisonettes and triplexes, and divided into two by D’Iberville Street, which runs in between. He went online and bought eight camping tables that could be folded up and neatly put four seats in between. He expects another shipment by this weekend, bringing that number to 30.
As of yesterday, customers who order from La Grand-Mère Poule / Shack Attakk can rent a table for USD 10. If they post about it on their social media accounts, they’ll receive a gift card for the same amount the next time they shop. Some may view it as a cunning loophole from the current outdoor dining ban, but Abrieu says he’s essentially just combining his take-out offering with table rentals – something he wants to continue even after the terraces reopen. “I am an entrepreneur. If there’s a wall in front of me, I’ll break it and keep moving, ”he says.
While City announced thirteen pedestrian zones for the summer and one Relaxation of terrace feesRestaurants and eateries remain committed to the provincial health authorities and are unsure when exactly they will be able to use al fresco dining structures. Of course, Montrealers, the avid picnickers that they are, have been spread out over quilted blankets and firmly planted on park benches since the first touch of warm weather lured them out in droves.
Another restaurant on Beaubien Street last summer Moroccan oriented Darna Bistroquet, also came up with the idea of immersing themselves in the city’s picnic culture, which became all the more central to community life with the ghost of an airborne virus. The restaurant delivered sandwiches and e-boxes to eight parks, including Jarry, Laurier and Maisonneuve. The hope is to revive the service in May while expanding coverage to all major parks in the metropolitan area – should the weather stabilize and comply with guidelines, health authorities continue to allow.
„It’s part of the business model now,” says Amer. “And to be honest, it was our summer last year. We had a terrace, but our sales for these supplies exceeded it. „
Amer plans to add grilled items like lamb ribs, merguez sausages and marinated halloumi to the menu, as well as accessories like coolers, bottle openers and woven Moroccan throws that the restaurant would pick up after each use.
Bar Mamie, another establishment on Beaubien Street, took advantage of the summery weather last weekend to launch a similar service that delivers cold cuts, cheese boards and wines to Laurier Park. Although the decision to debut last week was a spontaneous one, the team had pondered it since the initial lockdown after noticing customers dropping by before heading to the park.
Co-owner Max Rosselin said they had planned to launch a fancy website and QR code for the offer, but when the sun came up early they decided to take a less formal approach: you posted on Instagram and let the guests order by phone; If the demand was there, they could always invest in something more official. Mamie was soon on her way to the park to be dropped off every hour and textually coordinated with customers prior to their arrival.
For all their ingenuity, the above restaurateurs wonder what responsibility they have after equipping diners with everything they need for a good time. Rosselin said in one case that someone ordered a few bottles of wine too many and considered asking about the size of their congregation. Amer wonders if restarting the service can be viewed as „inciting outdoor dining when the government tries to get us to restrict contact”. Abrieu is a bit more matter-of-fact: “I can’t be the police. Whether they have my table or not, they will eat on the street, in the car, in the parks, wherever. „
The consumption of takeaways in parks seems to deter restaurant workers further from harm than in a terrace scenario in which they – dressed in protective clothing, although most of them have not yet been vaccinated – are surrounded by others who are masked while eating. According to Nicole Turcotte, co-owner of Montreal’s True Picnic Pioneer Dinette Triple Crown, The risks are still high enough that the southern restaurant will forego its wicker baskets and gingham blankets until all employees have been vaccinated. „There are still too many variables to safely perform the service, not to mention that we don’t want to encourage the large groups that congregate in the parks that look as rarely as 2 meter tall art,” she says .
Dinette Triple Crown also went offline last year, the first time since it opened nine years ago when, to their knowledge, it was the first to offer a picnic in town. „It was such an integral part of our identity, not just a fulcrum,” says Turcotte, adding that she sometimes fears that her restaurant’s tight security might overshadow previous achievements. „But we just have to hold our breath a little longer and concentrate to get the other side of it all – picnics and everything.”