SAQ coming down on east-end topless landmark

Par P.A. Sévigny le 27 novembre 2008

At 8:30 in the morning, the fast-food restaurant on Hochelaga Street was just as busy as any other fast-food joint in the city — perhaps busier. While Les Princesses served fast-food breakfast meals just like any other of its kind in the city, the well-known restaurant also had a liquor license. For almost 10 years, Gaetan Thomas, its owner, said the restaurant was doing good business before Quebec liquor board authorities recently decided to revoke his liquor license. Now he will probably have to close the business.

“I’m going to have to send the girls home,” said Thomas. “Beer sales used to make up nearly 50 percent of the business and without the beer, there’s not much business.”

Thomas lost his license because, after at least 9 visits by liquor board officials who were working ‘undercover’, he was told one of his waitresses broke the law because she served one of the officers a beer without a meal.

“When?” asked Thomas. “What officer? Which waitress? Two weeks later, all I got was a telephone call telling me I was going to lose my license.”

The businessman especially resents how the liquor board’s authorities refused to identify themselves to the girls. At one point, he was fined almost $4,000 (ticket and court costs) because the authorities accused him of serving beer with the restaurant’s .99 cent ‘Spaghetti Special’ on a plate they considered to be too small for the spaghetti.

“They said the plate wasn’t big enough for a ‘special’ so I had to buy bigger plates if I wanted to sell beer with the spaghetti”, he said.

Many believe the restaurant’s problems are due to the fact the waitresses in Les Princesses wear nothing but a pair of shoes and a thong while taking your order. Over the past decade, Thomas admits the girls bring a lot of people, “…but there’s nothing going on here.” He also said the police only showed up once in ten years  “…and that’s because some guys held up the restaurant at gunpoint.”

Thomas knew he was in trouble after the liquor board (Régie des Alcools, des courses et des jeux) accused him of putting on an “erotic spectacle” which he said was completely ridiculous.

“Anybody can see these girls aren’t strippers,” he said. “They’re just waitresses with nothing on.”

So far, other comparable restaurants said they’re having no problems with the province’s liquor board. On the corner of Rosemount Blvd. and Des Érables in the Petite Patrie district, restaurant owner Jacinthe Vigneault was frying up eggs and bacon as fast as she could while two girls, both topless, were waiting for their orders. As clients ate their breakfast, some read their Journal and others lingered over their second cup of coffee while a grainy porn flick was playing on the TV near the window.

“I don’t have any troubles with the régie,” said Vigneault. “But then nobody gets a beer without getting something to eat.”

While Thomas may or may not get his license back, he still has a valid argument to bring to the régie. Whatever they might think the girls were doing in Les Princesses, it definitely wasn’t an “erotic spectacle”.

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