Montreal food truck pioneer Grumman 78 closes shop

Grumman 78 co-owners Gaëlle Cerf and Hilary McGowan. Friday October 16, 2020. Gloria Henriquez / Global News

It’s the end of the culinary road for Montreal’s first taco truck: after nearly 10 years, Grumman 78 is parking its iconic wheels for good.

The food truck pioneers behind Montreal’s beloved tacos said ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have hurt their bottom line.

“We’ve been agonizing about it since March,” said co-owner Hilary McGowan.

“The second I heard this pandemic was bearing down on us I thought to myself, ‘what do you do when your business is based on being close together?'”

Read more: Bon appetit! Montrealers line up for taste from long-awaited food trucks

The announcement was published on Facebook on Friday. Since then, people have flooded the page with grief-stricken comments and memories.

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One commenter said, “these are (sic) sad news… G78 leaves an important mark in the history of Saint-Henri.”

Another one wrote, “Truly saddened by this. So many great dinners and you guys hosted our wedding reception and it rocked. We still hear about it today, the same way you will always be remembered. Thank you for the memories and deliciousness.”

Many called the restaurant an institution. “I agree with all of it. Grumman is my home and it’s my family. It’s a huge loss for many many people,” McGowan said.

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Grumman 78 leaves legacy for food trucks

In 2013, the women behind Grumman 78, Gaëlle Cerf and Hilary McGowan, successfully lobbied the city of Montreal to allow food trucks on its streets.

The sale of street foods had been banned in the city since 1947 over hygiene concerns.

They were only permitted in special circumstances such as festivals and on federal and provincial property in the city.

“Why wouldn’t you want trucks with delicious food running around your city with affordable delicious options seems like a win win to me?” McGowan said with a cheeky tone. “I’m extremely proud of the fact that we were able to do that. We made our mark in the city and in the city’s gastronomic history and just history, period.”

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Read more: City of Montreal gives food trucks the green light

As for the iconic food truck. Owners are planning to auction it.

“You know there’s a picture of it in the airport? The taco truck makes people happy,” McGowan said.

Auction is not McGowan’s only plan or hope for the restaurants’ well-known wheels.

“I want the taco truck to wind up in a museum. It’s a culinary landmark, it’s a piece of Montreal history,” McGowan confessed. “It was also painted by a very famous Montreal artist named Dave Arnold and it’s his Magnus Opus in my opinion.”

Read more: Montreal food trucks back on the streets

Grumman 78 is also selling its equipment and memorabilia at their Saint-Henri location Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’d like people to come say hi, say bye, wave. We can wear a mask and social distance,” McGowan said.

“Please come see us so you can thank us for all the years that you’ve loved and supported us. It’s been such a pleasure to be a part of people’s lives.”

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The owners say they will take some time to rest and think about what’s next for them.

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