Just shy of a quarter century in business, Buonanotte may have finally found a way to work peaceably with Montreal police to avert criminal elements from the popular supper club. Partner Massimo Lecas has long insisted that restaurants and bars in the city cannot be held responsible if patrons who are known to law enforcement legally enter the premises—and that it is impossible to police who may be undesirable or not.
Now, under the terms of a possible settlement between the supper club's management and the morality squad, the police will have to furnish Lecas and his partners with a list of people who have court-ordered conditions that not only ban them from Buonanotte, but from bars in general. Buonanotte's compromise? A voluntary 40-day liquor permit suspension. An administrative judge with the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux now has 90 days to decide whether the proposal is acceptable. If so, Buonanotte, which employs about 100 people, will close for 40 days, possibly around the Christmas holidays. Lecas is optimistic the judge will rule favourably and thus end an era of scrutiny and suspicion because of alleged patronage by suspected street gang and organized crime members, and a host of more minor offenses at the supper club.
"The alternative was to fight. Maybe they would have shut us down during F1 weekend. Maybe they would have shut us down for more than 40 days. Now at least I get to control the process by settling with them. Yesterday the Régie, the bench, had some reservations regarding the settlement. But the morality cops said they were part of the decision and that they trusted our intentions. When the judge heard this, he seemed assured."
The theoretical agreement comes with other provisos, some of them rather open-ended. Buonanotte will have to work with the SPVM to curb violence; communicate regularly with the Éclipse anti-gang unit; voluntarily submit security camera footage; install metal detectors; and, finally, submit names of all security personnel to police and ensure they are licensed by the Bureau de la Sécurité privée. The entente could signal a shift in how restaurants and bars in Montreal work with the police, asserts a spokesperson for the Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent.
"We are very happy with the settlement, which will undoubtedly serve as a precedent and could become a solution to the problems of numerous businesses in Montreal and the rest of Quebec," Tasha Morizio, the merchants association's executive director, told the Gazette. "They won’t be responsible for identifying presumed undesirable clients in the eyes of the law. What’s more, they will be able to communicate directly with police if the clients refuse to leave the establishment."