After a devastating year of closures, takeout and layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montreal’s restaurants, bars and clubs planned a “symbolic re-opening” on Saturday.
The goal was for participating restaurants across the city to allow people inside the establishments to take a quick tour, look at the menus and promote specials.
Participating businesses downtown, in Old Montreal, Griffintown and Little Italy had staff members welcome passersby on the street to distribute gift certificates and other goods.
Alain Creton, owner of Chez Alexandre on Peel street, says he helped organize this unique demonstration to remind people of what once was.
“Probably they have the feeling they want to see us again and they want to remember some good times they used to have in a restaurant and bars in Montreal,” said Creton.
“We have been closed for so many months we have become like a museum.”
Other owners say opening for a few hours was also to remind themselves of what was.
“It’s also self-promoting for us which gives us some confidence that in the near future there will be something for us to come back to work for,” said Mario Borges, the general manager of Iberica Restaurant.
For Robert Ruel, the owner of Jardin Nelson in Old Montreal, the unique form of demonstration was also to remind the government that things need to start moving.
“Get the people, the politicians to give us a break so we can open up as soon as possible,” he said.
“Winter was bad for us. Last year was bad for us.”
On Friday, the city announced restaurants and bars will receive $4 million in financial aid. Businesses can apply for up to $25,000 to make necessary upgrades before an opening day is set.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says she would like to see terraces open on June 1, but a final decision must come from public health authorities.
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