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Photograph: Courtesy Loïc

Joe Beef announces rallying cry to Montreal restaurants and bars: Sell your wine

Joe Beef took to social media this morning with the hashtag #openourcellars, imploring restaurants to sell wine without the government's required food sales.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

David Macmillan's saying enough is enough.

In an Instagram post today, the co-chef of Montreal's Joe Beef implored restaurants in the province to sell their wine without requiring customers to buy food to go along with it—a requirement that's been longstanding since the beginning of the pandemic and the bureaucracy that's plagued restaurants' ability to survive in exceedingly precarious circumstances.

"Today I encourage all my colleagues who own restaurants in the province of Québec to sell a bottle of wine without food to a customer as an act of civil disobedience to show our displeasure with the inaction of the Legault CAQ Government’s reforms to our restaurants permit in these extraordinary circumstances," Macmillan wrote in his Instagram post, adding that if other restaurants agreed, they should take a picture (either staged or evidential) and post it to their social networks.

Since that post went up, the Saint-Henri restaurants Elena and Satay Brothers, restaurant owner Dominic Laflamme, and the Little Italy-based restaurant Marconi, have posted in support of the decision on Instagram. On Dave Macmillan's Facebook account, however, there are even more restaurants and bars who are posting photos in the comment section:

The decision to post follows yesterday's hospitality bombshell news that Quebec's director of public health Horacio Arruda didn’t recommend that the Quebec government close restaurants and museums, a point which has been often touted by restaurant and bar owners across the province as evidence that prolonged lockdowns of their sector is ineffectual against the spread of COVID-19.

Arruda did mention, however, that he was "comfortable" with the decision when pressed by Parti-Québécois Leader Pascal Bérubé during a legislature committee hearing on Wednesday.

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A post shared by Elena (@elenamontreal)

Being obligated to sell food with alcohol have been the bane of many restaurants' existence since the beginning of the pandemic. As Time Out Montreal reported back in May, the SAQ remains the only way for Montrealers to purchase alcohol without food—a decision which could be easily suspended to support restaurants and bars, even if it's no promise of saving our city's culinary and mixology institutions.

As Turbo Haüs owner Sergio Da Silva said to Time Out Montreal in that article: “You have this stock, you have these things that you can move and make you money, but there’s all this red tape," says Da Silva. "Either you wants us to stay afloat, or you’re going to float us until things get better. Provincially, they’re not doing either of those things. They’re making things harder for bars and restaurants to stay open.”

The latest from Time Out Montréal

- Saint-Henri's latest arrival Teochew Foodie is gem of regional Chinese specialties

- Chinatown's huge Christmas market pop-up is back for another edition this weekend

- Montrealers have spoken, and this is their city's most iconic dish

- Montreal's Joe Beef is making TV dinners, plus a TV show to watch while you eat it

- The free and festive light-filled holiday pop-up Winter Gardens is now open in downtown Montreal

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