In a borough with a reputation for multicultural restaurants and great food, it’s not uncommon to see lineups outside of popular Saint-Laurent establishments. But as the province grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, many are now dark, empty, with closure signs draped on their front doors.
“Saint-Laurent is a ghost town these days,” said Mai Li, a chef who works at Kam Do, one of the few restaurants still open on Décarie Blvd.
Adjusting to this new reality has meant cutting purchases by half and temporarily laying off staff. Quebec government ordered all non-essential businesses to close until at least May 1 – meaning that places like Kam Do can still do deliveries and take-out, but nothing more.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” said Tram sadly. “But our days are definitely numbered.”
Down the street, Joe Zi is experiencing the same problem at his restaurant, Yi Pin Xiang. According to Zi, he only received a handful of take-out orders over the last few days. Still, he says he’s committed to staying open for as long as he can, if only for his employees’ sake.
“As an employer, I have a responsibility to my employees who need a source of income,” Zi said. “We’re like a family, so I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they can put food on the table.”
Business as Usual
For other Saint-Laurent businesses, the COVID-19 outbreak is just business as usual.
At caterer Dolci Piu, baker Cassandra Carpentier says that, while there are certainly less customers than usual, she is grateful for the regulars who are still supporting the local business during these uncertain times.
“We’re just trying to stay strong,” she said. “It helps to have a solid support network.”
Meanwhile, at popular family-run joint Décarie Hot Dogs, a line is still protruding from the door – albeit one that only consists of those picking up orders for take-out.
“Nothing can stop me from getting my hot dog fix,” said Amber O’Kill, clutching a bag full of warm steamies after walking out the door. “Not even a pandemic!”