Montreal Moves To Limit New Restaurants To Protect Existing Restaurants

Giuseppe Valiante wrote . . . . .

David McMillan, co-owner of Montreal’s renowned Joe Beef restaurant, laments that virtually anyone, regardless of experience, can open an eatery in the gastronomical city.

“I can’t decide tomorrow to practise plumbing, to practise amateur electricity,” he muses in an interview with The Canadian Press. “In Montreal you can apply for a restaurant permit and get it immediately — that’s a problem for me.”

McMillan’s view is by no means the consensus in the industry but it reflects part of the debate in Quebec among chefs, restaurant owners, citizens and politicians.

With competition so fierce and profit margins so small — roughly 2.7 per cent on average — the role Quebec’s highly interventionist government should play in one of the province’s most dynamic industries remains a source of contention.

The debate is not new and was rekindled earlier this year when Carlos Ferreira, owner of a well-known eatery, said Montreal should impose quotas in neighbourhoods to limit competition and help struggling legacy restaurants stay in business.

“I don’t believe in the free market anymore,” Ferreira said at the time. “We have to protect the good restaurants.”

Celebrity chef Daniel Vezina said recently the fact so many restaurants close a few months after opening shows there are too many places to eat in Quebec City and Montreal.

“Everyone wants to open a restaurant, to become a chef — that has to change,” Vezina told reporters.

Montreal has one of the highest per-capita ratios in North America with regard to restaurants, and the proliferation of places to eat is worrying local politicians.

The main commercial artery in the borough of Saint-Henri became so popular with restaurateurs that councillors decided to pass a bylaw to create what they called a “better balance” between retail, services and restaurants.

The law bans all new restaurants on Notre-Dame Street — where Joe Beef is located — within 25 metres of an existing one.

McMillan agrees with the bylaw.

If all the commercial spots on a street are filled with restaurants, he says, then there is no foot traffic before 6 p.m., which he believes kills the vitality of the neighbourhood.

His main complaint, however, is that people with little culinary knowledge or skill can endanger people’s health. Moreover, McMillan says high turnover rates makes insurance more expensive and bank loans harder to get for the more serious players.

“I’m going to serve 100 meals tonight and I pray and I work so hard that everyone has a wholesome and healthful meal,” he said.

“The opportunity to introduce raw food and animal protein into people’s bodies is not to be taken lightly. At a minimum, there should be some kind of certification.”

But that would risk turning the city’s restaurant scene into a heavily bureaucratized nightmare like the province’s construction industry, says François Meunier of Quebec’s restaurateur lobby.

While chefs and owners can’t agree on issues such as restaurant quotas and chef certification, Meunier says most of his members’ profits are threatened by road construction, high property and licensing taxes, as well as the potential for a $15 hourly minimum wage.

“It’s only restaurateurs complaining there are too many restaurants,” he said. “Ask people, citizens, they have full choice, great price for quality compared to other cities.

“The role of the government is to offer conditions that are adequate for us to operate and not to strangle us with taxes.”

But Meunier’s position is nuanced and flirts with contradiction.

When it comes to food trucks, Meunier and his lobby don’t have a problem with regulations to limit entrants.

Montreal ended its ban on food trucks in 2013 but only allows restaurants with physical locations to operate them — cutting out anyone with modest means from starting a small street-food business.

“If we allowed anyone to do it we would have 500 hotdog trucks,” Meunier said. “And it wasn’t what the citizens wanted, it wasn’t what the city wanted.”

And while calls for restaurant quotas get a lot of attention, politicians have been lukewarm to the idea so as not to meddle with a recipe that is making Montreal, despite its poor infrastructure and sluggish economy, a destination-of-choice for discerning food tourists.

McMillan says bring on the competition.

“I worked in the top 10 restaurants in Montreal 25 years ago — none of them are here today,” he said. “All of the top 10 restaurants in Montreal right now — none of them will exist in 20 years. That’s history. That’s cyclical. Who says you’re good? You’re good and then you’re not.”

Source: The Star


Skewers of Ground Lamb with Fennel and Beet Salad


500 g ground lamb
1 teaspoon dried mint
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small red onion, grated
sea salt and cracked black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 medium fennel bulb (300 g), trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fennel fronds
1 bunch baby beetroot (300 g), trimmed and thinly sliced
1 bunch golden beetroot (300 g), trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cups baby (micro) red-veiled sorrel leaves (optional)
1/2 cup mint leaves

Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
sea salt and cracked black pepper


  1. To make the tahini dressing, place all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. Preheat a char-grill pan or barbecue over medium heat.
  3. Place the lamb, dried mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, onion, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
  4. Shape tablespoons of the lamb mixture around the ends of 15-cm bamboo skewers.
  5. Brush with oil and cook the skewers, turning every 2-3 minutes, for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Place the fennel, fennel fronds, beetroot, baby sorrel, and mint leaves in a bowl and toss to combine. Top with the skewers and drizzle with the tahini dressing to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Donna Hay

In Pictures: Foods of French Chef Anne-Sophie Pic

Holder of six Michelin stars across her three restaurants in France and Switzerland

Staying Trim, Strong May Cut Risk of Urinary Incontinence in Women

Urinary incontinence is a widespread complaint among women, but a new study suggests that older women may find relief from this frustrating problem if they’re slimmer and stronger.

The study followed nearly 1,500 women in their 70s for three years. Researchers found that a decrease in body mass index of 5 percent or more during that time led to a 50 percent reduction in the risk of new or persistent stress urinary incontinence.

Body mass index (BMI) is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. For example, a woman who’s 5 feet 6 inches tall who weighs 175 pounds has a BMI of 28.2. If she lost 5 percent of her BMI, it would be 26.8, which translates to a weight loss of about 9 pounds.

The study also showed that a decrease in grip strength of 5 percent or more was linked to 60 percent higher odds of new or persistent stress urinary incontinence. Grip strength is considered an indicator of overall muscle strength, the study authors said.

“Our study found that changes in body composition and grip strength are associated with changes in stress urinary incontinence frequency over time, but not with changes in urgency urinary incontinence frequency over time,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Anne Suskind. She’s an assistant professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Suskind said that distinguishing between the two types of urinary incontinence is important.

“Stress incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine associated with an increase in abdominal pressure (i.e., coughing, laughing, sneezing),” she explained.

“Urgency urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine accompanied or immediately preceded by a sense of urgency. The underlying mechanisms of each type of incontinence differ and each type of incontinence is treated differently,” Suskind said.

Stress urinary incontinence tends to happen after delivering children, said Dr. Megan Schimpf. She’s chair of the Public Education Committee for the American Urogynecologic Society.

Urgency incontinence may be caused by neurological issues, Schimpf said.

At the start of the study, there were 1,475 women aged 70 to 79. Of those, 212 women said they had at least monthly stress urinary incontinence, and 233 said they had at least monthly urgency urinary incontinence.

Women who said they had at least monthly urinary incontinence had an average BMI of about 28. It was slightly lower — 27.5 — for women who didn’t have incontinence. A BMI between 24.9 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI above 30 is considered obese.

After three years of follow-up, 1,137 women were still in the study.

Of those women, 164 women said they had new or persistent stress urinary incontinence, and 320 had new or persistent urgency urinary incontinence.

The study authors suggested that losing weight — even for a woman in her 70s — may help stress urinary incontinence by relieving some of the pressure on the bladder. Likewise, grip strength may indicate overall strength, and stronger bladder muscles may be able to withstand more pressure.

Neither of these factors was linked to an improvement in urgency urinary incontinence. This may be because urgency urinary incontinence could be the result of years of damage that isn’t so easily reversible, the researchers noted.

Schimpf said whatever the cause, women of all ages with urinary incontinence should see their doctor.

“A lot of women are unfortunately under the assumption that incontinence issues are normal, and that’s definitely not the case,” Schimpf said.

There are a number of treatments for stress incontinence — from pelvic floor physical therapy to silicone devices called pessaries, to surgery — and these treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, she added.

Schimpf said caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and artificially sweetened beverages can irritate the bladder and trigger bladder spasms, which can lead to overactive bladder symptoms.

Circling back to the new study’s findings, researcher Suskind pointed out that weight loss and increased strength can also be effective treatments. “Appropriate diet and exercise would be a good place to start, and may be helpful in decreasing the odds of new or worsening stress type of urinary incontinence,” she said.

The study was published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Today’s Comic