Another day, another Plateau merchant bedevilled by an administrative snafu. The victim this time is a Frite Alors! outlet on Laurier Est, corner Fabre. After repetitive attempts over three long years to secure a terrasse permit, owner Yannick De Groote was finally granted the privilege this spring. De Groote subsequently hired a company to build a small, 12-seat patio—business boomed throughout the summer months at the Belgian frites maker. Then, this past September 2, the borough informed the Frite Alors! frontman that a mistake had been made: the terrasse permit should never have been issued because of a scheduled sidewalk beautification project.
Despite the fact that the Plateau has offered to compensate him for the construction and removal of his terrasse, and will ultimately add an al fresco space for 15 diners outside his restaurant, De Groote is livid. "But who will pay? The taxpayer! And when? That we do not know. We find it so ridiculous, it is a story of $15,000," the exasperated restaurateur told a La Presse reporter.
The borough has confessed to the bureaucratic bungle and has sworn to avoid such mistakes in the future. "It was a very stupid administrative error. The permit office processed the application without being aware that a project was to be built on the corner," explained Marianne Giguère, borough councillor for the De Lorimier district. "It's been three years that we apply for a license. It's not like it was a terrasse we had every year," retorted a flabbergasted De Groote. The Frite Alors! patio was dismantled, a month ahead of schedule, yesterday. The city expects to start construction on the Laurier Est sidewalk this week.