Mavi, a Portuguese piri piri chicken standby, closed this past December after what owner Maria Lourenco describes as a permit snafu with the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough. Some of what transpired was recently disclosed by a blogger with personal knowledge of events. A fixture on Gatineau street across from Parc Jean-Brillant for close to two decades, Mavi, and several other businesses, were pressured to look for replacement homes in 2014 after a condo development was announced for the block. Lourenco soon scored new digs, just up the street, in the former Aseel BBQ.
"I wanted to stay close by for my customers," Lourenco disclosed today. "The space was perfect. It was on the same street. The kitchen was a nice size and there was a charcoal grill." Lourenco secured a lease and looked forward to a new chapter for Mavi. Her plans were put on hold, however, when the borough told her that the space was not zoned as a restaurant. Mavi would have to operate with an épicerie permit, despite the fact that the previous occupant was, ostensibly, a restaurant. As a result, Lourenco would have to serve no more than a dozen customers at a time, and a liquor permit was out of the question.
"It makes no sense to me," Lourenco confessed. "There are two restaurants next door. I filled out so much paperwork to fix this, I spent more than $500, I waited and waited for months, and never got a response. Finally the director of urbanisme told me my request was not approved." The dejected restaurateur ultimately decided it was not possible (with, effectively, a dépanneur permit) to offer the same level of service Mavi's customers were used to, and closed up shop in December.
Lourenco has not ruled out a return for Mavi, however. "I'm not sure at this point. It's been very hard. I'm very disappointed. I cried a lot. I worked day and night for years at that restaurant. Mavi was a family business. Right now I need to take some time for myself." Eater has reached out to the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough for comment.