Inflation and economic conditions: “It’s a monster bigger than me”

For the first time in more than 50 years, Saint-François-d’Assise and the two neighboring municipalities no longer have a restaurant. Times are particularly hard for restaurateurs in western Avignon, a situation that concerns the Matapédia-Les Plateaux Economic Development Corporation.

The last restaurant in Saint-François-d’Assise and the surrounding area, Le Central Resto-Pub, has bowed out. It opened its doors in the premises occupied by La Popotte, in operation since 1972.

Originally from the Plateaux, Sébastien Poirier launched his restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, in November 2020. While a COVID-19 outbreak was in progress, he offered delivery to the doors of houses in the Plateaux: unheard of for residents area, far from major centers.

It’s off to a flying start. It’s been completely crazy!, remembers Mr. Poirier, nostalgic. After several years and significant investments in 2022, the entrepreneur trained in management, however, had to throw in the towel at the end of April, much to his sadness. Nine employees worked on site.

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The Central Resto-Pub building, formerly La Popotte, is now for sale.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

The businessman gradually saw his business roll square from spring 2023, noting that the cost of goods had gone completely crazy.

%. The transport had a broad back”,”text”:”For the same [commandes], it had gone up by 25, 30%. The transport had a broad back”}}”>For the same [commandes], it had gone up by 25, 30%. The transport had a broad back, he remembers. Last summer, even with optimal turnover, the businessman noticed that his company’s profits had literally melted away. It wasn’t normal, I hadn’t experienced thathe notes, adding that insurance bills have also skyrocketed over the years.

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Sébastien Poirier admits to having shown a lot of resilience in recent months.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

In the months that followed, Sébastien Poirier observed that families, also faced with an increase in the cost of living, were no longer there.

Last fall, I think that’s when it spanked, he says, indicating that take-out orders have dropped by half. While the restaurateur believed that the approach of the holidays at least partly explained this decline, the hopes he still had after Christmas were dashed.

The absence of snowmobilers was the final blow.

A quote from Sébastien Poirier, owner of the former Central Resto-Pub in Saint-François-d’Assise

Despite an increase in its prices, the restaurant has not never been able to come to the surface. I leave with my head held high as I close here, because I did everything I had to do. I have tried everything. It wasn’t bad management, but the economic situationdefends Sébastien Poirier.

>>The bar section of the Central Resto-Pub>>

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The bar section of the Central Resto-Pub

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

The entrepreneur says he feels guilty since he is somehow depriving the community of an important gathering place. It really created a commotion in Saint-Françoishe admits, adding that citizens still approach him frequently to express their disappointment and support.

I find it terrible, but it’s a monster that’s bigger than me. This is a situation over which I have no control.

A quote from Sébastien Poirier, owner of the former Central Resto-Pub in Saint-François-d’Assise

Attached to his corner of the country, Mr. Poirier now dreams of the place being taken over by young people who would like, for example, to open a microbrewery there. The Gaspé resident also adds that the installations could be relaunched in a month if an entrepreneur wanted to plunge into the adventure of catering.

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Significant difficulties for the Lumber Camp

If Sébastien Poirier now speaks of food desert And limited options of catering in the sector, this is in particular because the Lumberjack Camp, the other institution in Saint-François-d’Assise, closed its doors last year.

>>Lumber Camp buildings>>

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In addition to cabins for rent, a restaurant was available on the Lumber Camp site.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

It hurts my heart. It’s sad for the people of Saint-François.

A quote from Doris Deschênes, president of the Multi-Resource Development and Heritage Corporation of the Plateaux

A drop in restaurant customers was first felt there in 2023. We hoped a lot from the summer tourist clientele, but […] in July, the big breaks arrived. We were forced to close, says Ms. Deschênes, also mayor of Saint-André-de-Restigouche. To welcome the public again, approximately $200,000 would need to be invested to resolve the site’s drinking water and wastewater problem.

>>The mayor of Saint-André-de-Restigouche, Doris Deschênes, in front of town hall.>>

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The mayor of Saint-André-de-Restigouche, Doris Deschênes, has been president of the Plateaux Multi-Resource Development and Heritage Corporation, which manages the Lumber Camp, for about a year.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

Due to past shortcomings and the closure of the Camp, debts have accumulated. At one point they reached $85,000, which includes a COVID loan of $60,000 which had been contracted during the pandemic and which had to be repaid. The Corporation reached an agreement in March with the five municipalities of Matapédia and Plateaux, owners of the Camp.

Each of them agreed to grant $10,000 in donations in addition to a loan. It is equivalent to an advance of five years of wind royalties which are paid to the Corporation.

It is thanks to the municipalities that we were able to emerge from this situation with our heads held high.

A quote from Doris Deschênes, president of the Multi-Resource Development and Heritage Corporation of the Plateaux.

Ms. Deschênes indicates that a lot of effort has been made to turn around the organization’s situation. Some reservations from last fall, during the hunt, were able to be honored, generating valuable profits. I myself went to clean chalets to be able to save these rentalssays the chosen one, laughing.

>>The poster announcing the Saint-François-d'Assise Lumberjack Camp.>>

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The Lumber Camp is now closed.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

The board of directors must now catch up on delays related to the filing of the organization’s financial statements. The organization subsequently plans to consult the population regarding the future of the Lumber Camp.

At Casimir for sale

The Chez Casimir inn and restaurant, in operation since 2018 in Matapedia, has also been for sale since January. The owners, Isabelle Côté and Dany Gallant, wish to devote themselves to other projects.

We were a little out of breath and wanted to do something elseexplains Ms. Côté. We did not find a [repreneur] who wanted to keep a little of the essence of what we do. Yes, we are a hostel and it is touristy, but above all, we are a place of socialization, gathering and cultural disseminationshe adds.

>>At Casimir>>

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At Casimir

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

Restaurateurs and innkeepers have nevertheless chosen, while waiting for an offer that will meet their expectations and hopes, to open for the summer with a new formula modeled on that of a sandwich shop. But Isabelle Côté admits that it is not easy to run a restaurant in 2024.

If we didn’t have accommodation, it’s certain that we wouldn’t be able to live with the restaurantspecifies the entrepreneur. I won’t shut it down, I want it to continuenevertheless reassures Isabelle Côté.

The Facebook publication announcing the sale of Chez Casimir, relayed by more than 800 people this winter, has, to a certain extent, sowed concern and confusion locally, observed the co-owner.

A shortness of breath observed

The Matapedia-Les Plateaux Economic Development Corporation, which notes a loss of steam among certain local entrepreneurs, admits to being concerned about the difficulties experienced in the area of ​​catering and the crumbling supply.

fun to be able to welcome our people and to be able to bring them to eat somewhere”,”text”:”It’s difficult. When people come here to the region, there are often days when the only thing we can tell them to eat is to go get a sandwich at the grocery store. […]. But it’s fun to be able to welcome our people and to be able to bring them to eat somewhere”}}”>It’s difficult. When people come here to the region, there are often days when the only thing we can tell them to eat is to go get a sandwich at the grocery store. […]. But it is the fun to be able to welcome our people and to be able to bring them to eat somewherenotes the president of the Corporation and mayor of Matapédia, Nicole Lagacé.

>>The mayor of Matapedia, Nicole Lagacé.>>

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The mayor of Matapedia, Nicole Lagacé

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

Here it hits hardshe agrees, referring to the current economic situation. I know it’s extremely difficultadds the elected official, who nevertheless specifies that the context is not exclusive to Gaspésie, nor to Matapédia-Les Plateaux.

The Corporation, behind the Route des Belvédères, recently put phase two of the initiative on ice in order to reposition itself for the rest of the project. The initiative aimed in particular to encourage the retention of passing tourists and to allow local businesses to benefit from this influx.

Mayor Lagacé nevertheless specifies that a café, Chez Marie-Louise, recently opened its doors in Saint-André-de-Restigouche. The Motel Restigouche in Matapedia, which changed hands last year, also plans to reopen the restaurant bar section of the establishment eventually.

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