After originally sending neighbourhood gastropub and Canadian cuisine staple Maison Publique a letter stating that the terrasse it’s been operating all summer long will have to go next year, the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough is now saying the patio can stay.
Chef-owner Derek Dammann had posted a photo of the notice he received from the borough to Instagram on Monday evening, expressing “profound disappointment” over his terrasse permit not being renewed for the following year. “What was once a hopeful sigh of relief will now be another cold winter living in small business purgatory,” he said.
But Sébastien Parent-Durand, chief of staff for the office of Plateau mayor Luc Rabouin, told Eater Tuesday evening that the notice sent to Maison Publique was the result of an administrative error that affected a handful of restaurants in the borough. Maison Publique, he says, was reassured yesterday that it could hold on to its terrasse for next summer after all.
In the notice posted to Instagram, the borough said that it had granted the restaurant a terrasse permit as a stopgap measure designed to help those grappling with the knock-on effects of the pandemic, but that the terrasse remained, nonetheless, in violation of existing borough bylaws having to do with the proximity to residential properties.
However, Parent-Durand now says no complaints from neighbours have been lodged against Maison Publique, which is one of the reasons the borough has decided to renew the permit for 2022. Though the decision was only communicated to Maison Publique on Tuesday, Parent-Durand says the borough had been in talks with several other restaurant owners in a similar situation for a couple of weeks.
Outdoor dining set-ups have helped Montreal restaurants who didn’t previously have them to make up some of the losses incurred from months of closures and ongoing seating capacity restrictions. Maison Publique’s is located at the corner of Gilford and Marquette, with bistro tables and chairs (totalling seating for 12 diners), spilling onto the sidewalk on either side of its doorway.
“This little terrace saved my business this summer,” Dammann wrote on Instagram on Monday, before being advised that his terrasse could stay. (By Wednesday morning, the post had over 3,500 likes and 300 comments, the majority expressing support for the restaurant and statements of outrage and disbelief over the notice.)
Dammann went on to say that the restaurant hadn’t committed any infractions, that the terrasse was by no means a late-night affair, and that it was appreciated by neighbourhood denizens. Corroborating this last claim were a handful of self-identified neighbours commenting under Dammann’s Instagram post that they were grateful to the restaurant for what the terrasse contributed to their surroundings.
With certain Montreal boroughs having waived terrasse fees this past summer, the Plateau having promised to ease various outdoor dining rules last winter, and Montreal mayoral candidates Valerie Plante and Denis Coderre both just recently pledging to make way for heated terrasses in an effort to support restaurant owners, the news of a notice to not renew Maison Publique’s outdoor dining permit read as oddly out-of-step with the still-pandemic-ridden times.
That’s because the civil servant who sent it — back in August, Parent-Durand notes — “was just applying the bylaws,” unaware that the borough had been mulling amending them for next year given the ongoing circumstances, he says. “The global situation is that we increased the number of terrasses from 95 to 180 this year, so we almost doubled them. Our vision and our main goal is to try to find a way to make the bylaws more comfortable for everyone and make sure the terrasses can stay for many more years,” he says.
Dammann hasn’t responded to Eater’s requests for comment, but told the Montreal Gazette that getting confirmation that he could offer outdoor dining again next summer is a “minor victory” in the context of ongoing coronavirus measures, notably significant capacity restrictions, which remain an obstacle for Montreal restaurant owners.
Update: October 6, 2021 10:00 a.m.: This post has been updated to include information that the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough is planning to renew Maison Publique’s terrasse permit for next year, and to incorporate commentary from Sébastien Parent-Durand, chief of staff at Plateau-Mont-Royal mayor Luc Rabouin’s office.
- Montreal withdraws Maison Publique terrasse, then gives it back [Montreal Gazette]