Some amateur cooks and bakers learned a lesson in Montreal’s permitting procedures over the weekend, as the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough reportedly shut down pop-up food stalls in some public areas on Saturday.
Global News spoke to various people who said they were bounced from city parks and public streets where they had set up shop. All were participating in “Restaurant Day”, a food event where anybody is invited to sell home-cooked food. The event was founded in Finland seven years ago, and while the organization that coordinated the day gave up in early 2018, the Restaurant Day event appears to be continuing on a smaller scale in Montreal, several times a year.
Restaurant Day vendors have typically been left alone by authorities, even though in official terms, they are illegal without a Hygiene and Food Safety certificate at the very least, and possibly event permits, depending on the location.
But it’s unclear how widespread any sort of crackdown was — Global only highlighted two groups being stopped from selling their wares, and both were in public parks, where an event permit is clearly required (although it seems like an event on private property in Westmount was visited by police, but not shut down). A Facebook group for participants featured a few complaints about stalls being visited by police or officials, but didn’t suggest any widespread enforcement of the rules.
Perhaps playing a little fast and loose with editing, Global inserted clips of a ten-year-old selling cookies on a sidewalk table, hinting at a narrative of “mean old folks calling the cops on kids selling lemonade”, except reporter Dan Spector never mentions whether or not the girl was stopped from selling — presumably not, since that would be headline-worthy.
So, is it one step further into a nightmarish jungle of red tape? Or just that one weekend a year where the city decides to be a fraction stricter on the rules, like the infrequent moments when the cops decide to go on a public drinking ticket binge? You decide — but know that you do sort-of-but-who-knows need a permit to make your own pop-up restaurant.