A new Montreal restaurant was slated to open today on the Promenade Ontario strip in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Rather than celebrate, however, owners Jacques Larocque, Pierre Provost, and Steve Trudeau have had to contend with a virulent campaign against their establishment—in part because the restaurant's name, La Mâle Bouffe, is a flagrantly macho play on words on malbouffe, or junk food ('mâle' translates as 'male').
Le Journal de Montréal reports that a band of 'radical feminists' recently smashed one of the restaurant's windows and plastered the Hochelaga district with posters that denounced the new business.
"The attacks are totally unfounded. I am accused of violence against women and machismo, and I find it really sad because we did nothing wrong," protested Larocque. "The person who designed our logo is a woman."
On June 2 the entrepreneur discovered that a large rock had been hurled through a window. Posters simultaneously appeared around the neighbourhood with the restaurant's logo altered to display a defiant woman in place of a mustachioed man with tattoos. Translated, the posters read: "When gentrification and sexism get on well together. Against a neighbourhood that is more and more 'clean,' expensive, and chauvinist. Against the escalation of violence against women. Reclaim our neighbourhoods and resume control of our streets."
"Those who have seen the people who put up the posters say they are members of a feminist-anarchist group. But no one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism so I don't want to make too many accusations," cautioned Larocque. "The concept behind the name La Mâle Bouffe is purely marketing. We make good food in slightly larger portions and wanted the name to be a play on words with junk food. I don't want to attack anyone personally."
In response to HoMa's apparent anti-gentrification vandalism epidemic and the group's 'take back the streets' message, Larocque told a reporter: "I was raised here from the age of two, so when I read that they want to take back their neighbourhood, I tell them it's been 30 years that I've lived here. I lived here when it was really poor and I'm glad that the neighbourhood is no longer as poor."
ICYMI, restaurants in another part of Montreal have been recent victims of vandalism protests as well.