In Montreal, spring spells the start of Lachine Canal hangs, La Fontaine Park picnics, and evenings spent dining al fresco in a city awash with street-side terrasses. But for a small number of restaurants, the season has also brought news of infrastructure work and regulatory hurdles that could stifle outdoor dining plans.
The latest people to learn that their terrasses might not be set up as planned this summer were Kevin Demers, owner of now-defunct Victorian-style pub Parliament and forthcoming Italian spot Bella in its place, and the folks at Chez Simon Cantine Urbaine — both of whom turned to Facebook to voice their discontent.
On Monday, Demers posted a notice he received from his borough informing him that he would be unable to set up a terrasse in Place d’Youville Park again this year — as he had done in the past. The note said that though a terrasse could be separated from a restaurant by a pedestrian passage, it cannot be installed across an actual street. Demers was told he could instead extend the terrasse that’s directly in front of his restaurant westward — provided the neighbouring business consents — but the restaurateur notes in the post that that would require purchasing materials for a new structure, when he already has one in storage.
“After fighting through the most difficult two years in our history, when there’s finally a glimmer of optimism on the horizon, the city comes and denies our terrasse permit just days away from terrasse season,” Demers said.
But, then on Thursday, the day after this article was originally published, Demers told Eater the city informed him that he could proceed with his original terrasse plans after all. He posted about the resolution on social media, thanking the city for “hearing our concerns and acknowledging them and acting on them.”
Meanwhile, out east, in Tétreaultville, burgers-and-more joint Chez Simon Cantine Urbaine said it won’t be able have a terrasse this summer. Per a now-deleted post published to the restaurant’s Facebook page on Monday, major roadwork being done nearby on Highway 25 and La Fontaine Tunnel has led to lane closures, rerouted streets, parking restrictions, and the suspension of the restaurant’s terrasse this summer. (Eater has reached out to Chez Simon about the deleted post, and to the borough for comment.)
Bella and Chez Simon aren’t the only restaurants that have had concerns about terrasse plans going awry. Eater reported on similar issues last year, and just a few weeks ago restaurateurs in Montreal’s Little Burgundy made headlines after decrying the timing of water main repairs on Notre-Dame that would delay their start to the terrasse season. They’ve since come to a compromise with the city, a compressed timeline for the work — but, of course, that depends on construction staying on track.
Update: April 14, 2021 1:30 p.m.: This post has been updated to include new information that the city has informed Demers he could set up a terrasse in Place d’Youville Park again this year.