There has been much grumbling heard over the last week in several bars in downtown Montreal. Particularly, but not limited to, bars with an Irish theme located a mere shillelagh’s toss from the St. Patrick’s Day parade route. It seems the police put a damper on what is usually the most lucrative day of the year for these establishments.
On parade day many bars have significant line-ups from pre-parade breakfast through the parade all evening and into the wee hours. Given this onslaught of Irish and Irish wannabe revellers most bars alter the house rules a little. Often bar-stools are removed to allow for easier access; there are no glasses, just plastic cups; no running tabs and it’s cash only, no credit or debit cards. Clients are requested to pay for their drink when ordering it, not when it arrives as many folks think nothing of ordering a round of drinks then deciding to move on to another place, leaving the waitress or waiter to foot the bill.
Despite all the madness of amateur once-a-year drinkers over imbibing (think New Year’s Eve with more beer and less champagne) bars and bar-staff stand to make a pretty penny on parade day. But this year the Montreal police decided to throw a spanner into the works. They had agents, armed with counters more aptly seen in an usher’s hand, making the rounds and calculating the number of patrons in each establishment to make sure they had not exceeded capacity. Of course the police number was the one that counted, not the house tally.
But in one pub the total number was well within the capacity, but because many patrons were crowded around the band, the police told management they could not allow any more people in until 75 had left. Many parade-goers look forward to this day all year, so it is not surprising that it took nearly two hours for 75 of them to leave during which no new guests were allowed in and the line-up dissipated as folks were made aware of the situation.
As it is all about turn-over, that’s two hours of prime parade day business down the drain.
Other bars were emptied completely if they could not provide proof that the doorman was ‘accredited’ (degree from Bouncer U?) or if they had no one keeping count.
I am not suggesting that packing bars beyond capacity should ever be tolerated on any day of the year, but the police seemed a bit heavy-handed in their demands.
I have to believe that, ironically, some time ago when many cops were either Irish or descended from Irish, they may have looked the other way on St. Patrick’s’ Day. But this year Irish pubs felt they had been targeted.
Of course living in Quebec it was not long before people started wondering if the police will act as over-zealously on June 24 when the bars on rue St. Denis will be packed with Fête nationale parade-goers.