Whereas watching one among Premier François Legault’s coronavirus press briefings final week, Sébastien Abrieu, the proprietor of Beaubien Road’s rooster-themed breakfast spot La Grand-Mère Poule, realized three issues: extra menacing virus variants proceed to take maintain; although the scenario in Montreal stays secure, the third wave is in full drive throughout the province; and, by deduction, his hope of reanimating his terrasse for outside eating may need to attend.
Abrieu and his accomplice Catherine Laforest had been deep in renovations turning the breakfast joint into an all-day affair, incorporating a cocktail bar and new design to match the burger-and-shakes providing they’d imported from their hit Mont St-Hilaire restaurant Shack Attakk. They’d anticipated a springtime terrasse would carry some reprieve as they undertook these expensive modifications.
“So I believed, ‘What if we may use this large stunning park that’s proper in entrance of us?’” Abrieu recollects. He means Molson Park, a roughly six-acre verdant house flanked on three sides by the neighbourhood’s almost century-old duplexes and triplexes, and cut up in two by D’Iberville Road working in between. He went on-line and bought eight tenting tables that fold in on themselves, neatly sandwiching seats for 4 in between. By this weekend, he expects to get one other cargo that can carry that rely as much as 30.
As of yesterday, patrons ordering from La Grand-Mère Poule/Shack Attakk can lease a desk for $10. In the event that they publish about it on their social media accounts, they’ll get a present card for that very same quantity for his or her subsequent buy. Some could view it as a artful loophole to the present ban on outside restaurant eating, however Abrieu says he’s basically simply pairing his takeout providing with a desk rental service — one thing he plans to proceed doing even after terrasses reopen. “I’m an entrepreneur. When there’s a wall in entrance of me, I break it and proceed to maneuver ahead,” he says.

Diners can now take pleasure in takeout from La Grand-Mère Poule/Shack Attakk on a rented picnic desk in Molson Park.Shack Attak/Provided

Whereas the town has introduced 13 pedestrian streets for the summer time and an easing of terrasse charges, eating places and diners stay beholden to the province’s well being authorities, not sure when precisely they’ll have the ability to make use of outside eating constructions. In fact, Montrealers, the passionate picnickers that they’re, have been sprawled throughout quilted blankets and firmly planted on park benches for the reason that first trace of heat climate coaxed them out in droves.
Final summer time, one other Beaubien Road restaurant, Moroccan-leaning Darna Bistroquet, additionally had the concept of tapping into the town’s picnic tradition, made all of the extra central to neighborhood life with the spectre of an airborne virus. The restaurant delivered sandwiches and apéro containers to eight parks, together with Jarry, Laurier, and Maisonneuve, and the hope is to revive the service come Might, whereas increasing its attain to all main parks within the metropolitan space — ought to the climate stabilize and tips from well being authorities proceed to permit it.
“It’s a part of the enterprise mannequin now,” Amer says. “And to be sincere, it made our summer time final 12 months. We had a terrasse, however our gross sales on these deliveries outsold it.”
Amer plans so as to add grilling objects like lamb ribs, Merguez sausages, and marinated halloumi to the menu, in addition to equipment like coolers, bottle openers, and woven Moroccan throws, which the restaurant would come gather after every use.

Darna’s apéro containers had been delivered to eight Montreal parks final summer time, and plans to additional increase its attain this 12 months.Darna Bistroquet/Provided

Bar Mamie, one other Beaubien Road institution, took benefit of final weekend’s summer-like climate with the launch of an analogous service delivering charcuterie, cheese boards, and wines to Laurier Park. Although the choice to debut final week was spontaneous, the group had been interested by it for the reason that first lockdown, after noticing prospects had been stopping by for provides earlier than heading to the park.
Co-owner Max Rosselin says the plan had been to launch a flowery web site and QR code for the providing, however when the solar got here out early, they’d determined to take a much less formal method: They posted on Instagram and had diners place orders by telephone; if the demand was there, they might at all times spend money on one thing somewhat extra official. Mamie was quickly heading to the park for hourly drop-offs, coordinating with prospects through textual content earlier than their arrival.
For all of their resourcefulness, the above restaurateurs nonetheless surprise what duty they’ve after equipping diners with every little thing wanted for a superb time. Rosselin says in a single case, somebody positioned an order for a pair bottles of wine too many, and he thought-about inquiring in regards to the dimension of their gathering. Amer wonders if restarting the service might be seen as “inciting individuals to eat outdoors when the federal government is attempting to get us to restrict contact.” Abrieu is a bit more matter-of-fact: “I can’t be the police. Whether or not they have my desk or not, they will eat on the street, the automobile, the parks, wherever.”
The consumption of takeout in parks would appear to maintain restaurant employees farther from hurt’s means than they’d be in a terrasse situation the place they — decked in protecting gear, although largely nonetheless unvaccinated — are surrounded by others who’re mask-less whereas consuming. However, in response to Nicole Turcotte, co-owner of Montreal’s true picnic pioneer Dinette Triple Crown, the dangers stay excessive sufficient that the Southern restaurant is opting to forgo its wicker-basket-and-gingham-blanket providing till all employees are vaccinated. “There are nonetheless too many variables to do the service safely, to not point out we don’t wish to add encouragement to the massive teams gathering within the parks that so not often look spaced 2 meters aside,” she says.
Dinette Triple Crown put the service on maintain final 12 months too, the primary time since opening 9 years in the past, when it was, to their data, the primary to supply a picnic setup within the metropolis. “It was such an integral a part of our id, not only a pivot,” Turcotte says, including that she generally worries her restaurant’s rigorous security precautions could eclipse its prior accomplishments. “However we simply want to carry our breathe for somewhat longer and preserve targeted to return out the opposite aspect of all this — picnics and all.”