Here’s your “it’s hard to believe, but true” article of the day.
Lawmakers in Montreal have moved to crack down on new restaurants, in an odious attempt to protect existing ones.
“Montreal has one of the highest restaurant per-capita ratios in North America and the amount of places to eat is worrying local politicians,” reads a Canadian Press piece from earlier this week.
If that sounds awful and weird, that’s because it is. Studies of the best places to eat often conclude that the more restaurants a city has per-capita, the better its restaurant scene. It’s no surprise that the more choices a consumer has, the better off that consumer is.
Montreal does have an impressive number of restaurants. Data shows Montreal trails only New York City in terms of restaurants per capita in North America. As in New York City, that competition is great for Montreal’s consumers. But it puts pressure on incumbent restaurateurs. So lawmakers have decided to side with the latter.
The worry expressed by lawmakers has turned into a ban on new restaurants from opening within 25 meters of an existing one along the city’s Rue Notre Dame, the street the now-shuttered Sans Menu once called home. Notably, the action comes as “a number of commercial and retail properties remain empty” in this same part of Montreal.
The law “risk[s] turning the city’s restaurant scene into a heavily bureaucratized nightmare like the province’s construction industry,” says the head of Quebec’s restaurant association, who notes that real threats to the industry come from “road construction, high property and licensing taxes, as well as the potential for a $15 hourly minimum wage.”
It’s not just brick and mortar restaurants though. Montreal’s increasingly absurd stance when it comes to food, also applies to food trucks.
Speaking of food trucks, Montreal recently ended its decades-long ban on food trucks, with a twist. Food trucks can’t park within 60 meters of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Also: “For food safety,” reports a Canadian news service, “the trucks chosen will have to be associated with an already established restaurant.”
You can’t make this up.
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