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

·2 min read
Amélie Acloque, a cook at Robin des Bois, says she’s grateful for the community’s outpouring of support.   (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC - image credit)
Amélie Acloque, a cook at Robin des Bois, says she’s grateful for the community’s outpouring of support. (Chloë Ranaldi/CBC - image credit)

Montreal non-profit Robin des Bois will move its culinary day camp to a brand new space, days after its founder watched their restaurant burn to the ground.

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

"It's like we went from a nightmare to a dream," Amélie Acloque, a cook from the organization, said.

Thanks to the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, Robin des Bois will run its day camp from the defunct restaurant's kitchen for free, starting Monday.

Chloë Ranaldi/CBC
Chloë Ranaldi/CBC

Luc Rabouin, borough mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal, says allowing the group to relocate to La Fontaine Park is a "win-win situation."

"Anyway, we had the space to maintain so we don't have more costs," he said. "And it's an opportunity to help a social organization… They offer services to our community, we offer the space."

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

"We will see what the needs are, and we will support them all the time they need," Rabouin said.

Saving summer

Robin des Bois' location on Saint-Laurent Boulevard went up in flames overnight on June 28.

After only one day of culinary camp, the non-profit lost its headquarters and all of its supplies.

Acloque took to social media the next morning, asking for help finding a new kitchen to keep the day camp running. To her and founder Judy Servay's surprise, generous residents answered in droves, ready to donate food for the cooks-in-training and spaces to host the camp.

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

Chloë Ranaldi/CBC
Chloë Ranaldi/CBC

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

For the first couple of weeks, operations will be limited to running the day camp, but staff and volunteers are eager to start cooking in their upgraded kitchen.

"It's bigger than anything we could've dreamed up," said cook Albert Norandeau. "We have space for the kids, for the employees, for the volunteers, for everyone there's room."

"Our goal is to give to the community and now, with the fire at the restaurant, we really feel like the community is giving back to us."

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