Montreal non-profit restaurant finds new home after fire thanks to community support

Montreal nonprofit Robin des Bois will move its culinary day camp to a whole new space, days after its founder saw his restaurant burn down.

The group, which offers cooking workshops and delivers meals to families in need, will move temporarily to the former Chalet-restaurant, a business in La Fontaine Park that closed during the pandemic.

“It’s like going from a nightmare to a dream,” said Amélie Acloque, a cook for the organization.

Thanks to the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, Robin des Bois will organize its free day camp from the kitchen of the deceased restaurant, starting Monday.

Robin des Bois will take over the kitchen of the former Chalet-restaurant at Parc La Fontaine. (Chloé Ranaldi / CBC)

Luc Rabouin, mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, affirms that allowing the group to move to La Fontaine park is a “win-win situation”.

“Either way, we had the space to maintain so as not to have more costs,” he said. “And this is an opportunity to help a social organization… They provide service to our community, we provide space.”

Council will determine how long the group can use the site at a borough meeting on Monday.

“We will see what the needs are and we will support them as long as they need,” said Rabouin.

Save the summer

Robin des Bois’ location on Saint-Laurent Boulevard caught fire on the night of June 28.

After only one day of culinary camp, the association lost its seat and all its supplies.

Acloque took to social media the next morning, asking for help finding a new kitchen to keep the day camp running. Much to her surprise and that of founder Judy Servay, generous residents responded en masse, ready to donate food for the cooks in training and space to host the camp.

“We put that [call-to-action] on Facebook and everyone was going left and right, ”Servay said. “Honestly, there were about 20 places I could have visited, and a lot of them would have been great.

Robin Hood staff and volunteers prepare and deliver meals to families in need. (Chloé Ranaldi / CBC)

All Robin des Bois profits go to community organizations Sun Youth, Le refuge des jeunes, Le Chainon and Santropol Roulant.

During the first two weeks, operations will be limited to day camp management, but staff and volunteers are eager to start cooking in their modernized kitchen.

“It’s bigger than anything we could have imagined,” said cook Albert Norandeau. “We have room for the kids, for the employees, for the volunteers, for everyone there is room.”

“Our goal is to give back to the community and now, with the restaurant going on fire, we really feel like the community is giving back to us.”

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