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Big Names Like Joe Beef Voluntarily Close Down in Response to COVID-19

Other establishments like Au Pied de Cochon and Toqué are remaining open for now

Randall Brodeur/Eater Montreal

Some major players on Montreal’s restaurant scene are deciding to voluntarily close their doors in order to restrict any possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

Famed Little Burgundy resto Joe Beef was one of the first to act — owner David McMillan announced on social media that following Saturday evening’s service, all of Joe Beef’s Notre-Dame West restaurants (Joe Beef, Liverpool House, Le Vin Papillon, and newcomer Vinette) would be closed for the foreseeable future. The group’s one other restaurant, McKiernan, will open on Tuesday, offering take-out and delivery service only.

This type of closure can be considered as an extra precaution — at present in Quebec, no restaurants are required to close (except sugar shacks and buffets, which are to be closed until further notice), although all restaurants must operate at no more than 50 percent of their usual capacity.

Restaurants that have decided to close have mostly issued statements indicating that they’re doing so to protect the health of their employees or customers. Speaking to the Gazette, McMillan said he didn’t feel comfortable instructing employees to work given the coronavirus pandemic.

But there’s far from any kind of consensus among the city’s restaurateurs: at the time or writing, other big names like Au Pied de Cochon and Toqué had announced plans to remain open, while reassuring customers of extra hygiene precautions that they’re taking.

Montreal’s three large-scale food halls initially had a mixed response: Le Central and Le Cathcart both announced closures (although with two counters in Le Cathcart remaining open), while Time Out Market remained open; by mid-afternoon Monday, Time Out also announced that it would be closed starting Tuesday.

Such a decision to close or to switch to take-out service may put employees in a situation of financial precarity. With all bars in the province also forced shut, there’s a large pool of service workers without a clear avenue to earn money and meet financial commitments like rent.

The owners of some restaurants that have closed or cut back service said that they’re helping workers apply for employment insurance (EI) — Ryan Gray of Elena and Vanya Filipovic of Vin Mon Lapin indicated this to the Gazette. The Canadian government has relaxed the rules on EI, allowing for payments to begin immediately (rather than after a one-week wait). Workers who do not have paid sick leave, and who have lost 40 percent or more of their regular income due to the novel coronavirus appear to be eligible for EI payments.

Even at restaurants that remain open, the 50 percent capacity rule and a substantial slowdown in business means that even staff who are still working will be impacted. In such cases, shifts will likely be cut, and income from tips would likely be lower than average.

Most restaurants that are closed have not given a timeline for returning to business, suggesting that they will await further advice from the government or public health authorities. Some, including Elena and Foxy, have indicated that they plan to be closed for two weeks initially, but note that this could change.

It remains possible that the government will impose stricter rules on restaurants as the COVID-19 situation develops (for example, New York has ordered restaurants to switch to delivery and take-out service only), although no such plans have been publicly floated in Montreal or Quebec.

Who’s closed?

Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

  • All bars and clubs, all sugar shacks, all buffet restaurants, until further notice (by government order)
  • Alma
  • Arthurs
  • Bar George
  • Beba (initially announced plans to offer take-out, but has since cancelled them)
  • Bottega
  • Boxermans
  • Brasserie Bernard
  • Café Janine
  • Café Régine
  • Caffe Un Po di Piu
  • Candide
  • Comptoire Rhubarbe (take-out dishes available from Pâtisserie Rhubarbe, around the corner)
  • Crew Collective & Café (possible reopening March 27)
  • Dandy
  • Dépanneur Le Pick-Up
  • Dinette Triple Crown (starting March 17)
  • Foxy
  • Garde-Manger
  • Hanzo Izakaya
  • Hélicoptère
  • Holder
  • Impasto
  • Joe Beef group, except for McKiernan: Joe Beef, Vin Papillon, Liverpool House, and Vinette
  • Le Bremner
  • Le Butterblume (prêt-à-manger options available from its next-door épicerie)
  • Le Café du Nouveau Monde
  • Le Cathcart (except Tulum Taqueria and Karma Poke)
  • Le Central (some restaurants inside are offering delivery)
  • L’Orignal
  • Maison Boulud (although Ritz-Carlton hotel guests will be provided with dining options)
  • Maison Publique
  • Marconi
  • Meson
  • Monkland Tavern (anticipated reopening on March 31)
  • Nora Gray
  • Noren
  • Oregon
  • Pizzeria Magpie
  • Provisions/Provisions Bar à Vin (Boucherie Provisions open for counter service)
  • Ristorante Beatrice
  • Satay Brothers
  • Taverne on the Square
  • Vin Mon Lapin

Elena

5090 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H4C 1T1 (514) 379-4883 Visit Website

Joe Beef

2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H3J 1N6 (514) 935-6504 Visit Website

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