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Some Montreal Restaurant Owners Are Anxious To Reopen & Frustrated With The Government

"It's ridiculous."
Staff Writer
Some Montreal Restaurant Owners Are Anxious To Reopen & Frustrated With The Government

Barely a week after the second lockdown was extended by the Quebec government, some Montreal restaurant owners are struggling to make sense of things. 

Anxious to reopen and frustrated with the government's decision to close their businesses to the public, two local restaurant owners vented to MTL Blog about what they're dealing with and how they expect to financially survive on takeout and delivery. 

Jerry Lam is the owner of Leaves House in downtown Montreal. 

Peter Papadogiannis is the owner of L'Oeufrier Dollard-des-Ormeaux, a breakfast restaurant in the West Island. 

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How has the second lockdown affected your restaurant? 

"The government shut us down with three days' notice and without any consideration of the inventory that we'd lose going from full service to just pickup and delivery," said Papadogiannis. 

"It's ridiculous to do such a thing." 

One of the main frustrations for Papadogiannis was the scramble to plan a new schedule and setting up around 80% of his employees for unemployment insurance. 

At Leaves House, Lam is feeling optimistic. By expanding its range of online products and transitioning into a more pop-up shop vibe, the Leaves House owner had to improvise how he conducts business.

"Adapting to the situation has been a lot of work but it's also been a lot of fun," he said. 

Can you survive on takeout and delivery if the lockdown is extended again? 

While the government's financial support has been a godsend for both Lam and Papadogiannis, both restaurants are really missing their customers. 

"Government help is fine but we count on our clientele to support us," said Lam. 

If the lockdown extends past Christmas, however, many restaurants would be facing a grim future, Papadogiannis suggested. 

"Surviving is what we've become used to in 2020, unfortunately, but everyone's survival depends on applying to all the federal and provincial loans — all the programs that allow the restaurants to make ends meet," he said. 

"At my restaurant, takeout and delivery is only 20% of what I normally do in revenue. So, if there weren't any government programs, we would literally have to close." 

How do you feel about restaurants remaining closed in Quebec red zones? 

There's been some controversy over the CAQ's decision to keep restaurants and bars closed while retail stores remain open.

In October, the Quebec Restaurant Association asked the government to reconsider the decision.

"There's less movement and less traffic in the café compared to a grocery store or shopping center. We were surprised by this measure," said Lam.

"We had to have sanitizing stations, masks, face shields, and six feet of distance between each table with no significant rise in cases," he said. 

"Then the kids went to school and immediately, we saw an impact. Restaurants closed on October 1 [...] and we're in a second wave and the lockdown was extended another four weeks." 

"You're telling me that it's acceptable that people are gathering in stores, hanging out side-by-side? [...] I find it ridiculous."

This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.

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