The Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), the Quebec government body that regulates alcohol, lottery, publicity contests, gambling, racing, and combat sports, has revoked the outdoor liquor licence of L'Atelier d'Argentine. This comes on the heels of a vehement publicity campaign by Rodrigue Paré, the Director-General of La Maison Jean Lapointe, the addiction treatment facility that shares the historic Cours Saint-Pierre building with the restaurant. The Régie ultimately agreed with Paré's assessment that "the presence of a terrasse where alcohol is consumed is likely to cause serious harm to residents in therapy."
Christopher Naco, the Chief Operating Officer at Stambac International, the consortium that owns L'Atelier d'Argentine, as well as Newtown, Wienstein & Gavino's and Decca 77, put forth a plan to scale back the restaurant's sidewalk patio. Ultimately, however, the Régie ruled that any alcohol consumption on the terrace was a violation of the public interest.
There are, as Nacos indicated in his testimony, some 50 terraces where alcohol is served in Old Montreal. Commissioners Jocelyne Caron and Jean Lepage agreed but countered with the fact that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC ) had acquired the building in the 1980s, in part, for the rehabilitation of alcoholics.
In an interview with La Presse Rodrigue Paré expressed relief over the decision but freely admitted that Old Montreal may not be the ideal environment to treat addicts.
When the house was moved here in 1983, there was not a single restaurant in the area. But since then Old Montreal has developed. Today, we would never consider opening a rehab clinic in the area. But, equally, we would never open a restaurant next to a rehab clinic.
Paré added that relations with California Dream and DNA, the previous restaurants in the space, had always been cordial. He maintained that L'Atelier d'Argentine knew La Maison Jean Lapointe would oppose the licence and that he sent his request to the board discreetly.
Our patients are in an acute phase of their treatment. They cannot be exposed to alcohol.
· Les mille parfums de l'Argentine [La Presse]
· La carte des vins bannie [La Presse]
· Tango culinaire [Le Devoir]
· [L'Atelier d'Argentine]
· [La Maison Jean Lapointe]