At a ribbon-cutting for a new store Tuesday, Plateau-Mont-Royal mayor Luc Rabouin says all plateau restaurants with permits for emergency terraces will be allowed to keep them at least through 2022.
At the outset of the COVID pandemic, when indoor dining was first restricted, many Montreal restaurants were awarded permits to build terraces in public spaces they would not previously have been allowed to use.
Recently though, some of those restaurants have received letters from the city, telling them those patios will not be allowed next year.
Maison Publique is renowned as one of the city’s top restaurants, so when owner Derek Dammann speaks out, many listen.
Monday night on Instagram Dammann posted a photo of the terrace he’s set up on the sidewalk in front of Maison Publique.
“This little terrace saved my business,” he wrote. “12 seats, 24 covers a night, no infractions, no late nights, neighbours came often to enjoy the beautiful space we created.”
Dammann went on to express his “profound disappointment” about receiving a letter from the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough informing him the terrace will no longer be allowed to continue in 2022.
“What was once a hopeful sigh of relief will now be another cold winter living in small business purgatory,” Dammann wrote.
Some of the city’s other restauranteurs expressed outrage, including David McMillan of Joe Beef and Stefano Faiti of Impasto.
Ryan Gray, co-owner of Nora Gray and Elena was among those taking Dammann’s side against the city on Instagram.
“I think it struck a chord with everybody,” he told Global News in an interview. “It feels like we’re constantly in an uphill battle with the city of Montreal.”
Gray said he’s been told his new terrace won’t be allowed next year either, because of plans to construct a new bike path in front of his business.
With the devastating blow COVID dealt to all restaurants relying on in-person dining, and the uncertainty about indoor dining restrictions moving forward, he says his terrace is vitally important to his bottom line.
“I mean, it takes a long time to recoup that kind of a loss,” said Gray.
Quebec’s Restaurant Association said it expects other restauranteurs to get bad news about terraces set up during COVID.
“You know, our industry is still in shambles,” said Association spokesperson Martin Vezina.
“If we can have access to these emergency terraces in 2022, it will help the restaurant owners generate more sales and they will be able to pay the debt they have accumulated since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Tuesday, Rabouin told Global News he had spoken with Dammann and given him the good news.
“I confirmed to him that he will be able to have the terrace next summer,” Rabouin said.
He says all plateau restaurants that got emergency terraces will be allowed to keep them at least through 2022.
And, although the matter is up to each borough to decide, Rabouin thinks emergency terraces in other parts of town will be allowed to stay too.
“They should be confident,” he said.