----City signs deal for new Marina restaurant
Gatineau signed a five-year lease with a local entrepreneur to operate a restaurant inside the Robert-Middlemiss Pavilion at the Aylmer Marina. Gatineau’s executive committee approved the agreement March 24. City spokesperson Josée Laurin-Jolicoeur told the Bulletin the contract was signed by a company designated as 11 820 826 Canada Inc., whose head office is listed at 46 rue René Thérien in Wychwood, and is operated by Ms Armine Boubane.
With a five-year lease – June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2026 – Laurin-Jolicoeur noted that the restaurant will offer a form of fusion cuisine and a picturesque view of the Ottawa River on an elevated outdoor terrace. “It will give a view of the entire Aylmer Marina, and will be optimized by being higher than the one for the former restaurant,” she said. According to the lease, the operator must complete renovations and open the restaurant within five months of signing the deal and Laurin-Jolicoeur estimates that it will open in August or September.
Noting that the city launched a call for tendering between January and May of 2020, to find someone to operate a restaurant in the Pavilion, Laurin-Jolicoeur said that no offers were received due to the pandemic. Between the summer and the fall of 2020, she told the Bulletin that at least eight entrepreneurs showed interest in renting the space and that the city selected the best offer it received.
Noting that the city has worked to open a restaurant at the new Pavilion for a long time, Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon said that approving the agreement is a huge step forward in enhancing the experience at the Aylmer Marina. “We would have liked for it to open last year because it’s a very touristic location,” Chagnon said, reminding readers that the general public will also be able to rent spaces in the Pavilion for events like banquets, parties, and weddings. “It’s something we’ve been missing for many years.… It’s great news. We’ll finally be able to benefit from sunsets at the Marina, and beautiful nights.”
Hoping for the restaurant to open by the end of summer at the latest, Chagnon believes it will benefit Old Aylmer by invigorating life at the Parc des Cèdres and making the Pavilion a go-to destination. “It completes rue Principale,” Chagnon said, noting that the Pavilion is also within walking distance from a number of residential hubs. “You have a beginning and an end now. You’ll be able to spend your whole evening on rue Principale if you want.”
Knowing limited information about Boubane, Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan is worried about the possibility that the city didn’t select the optimal candidate to operate the new restaurant. “I know nothing about them, which kind of concerns me because I’m wondering ‘does this person have experience,’” Duggan said. “I did some internet search and found there were traces of them being involved in the fabrication of personal protective equipment. But I didn’t see any traces of restaurant or client directed hospitality industry. I hope the city did its due diligence, that this person wasn’t just the best offer on the negotiation but is actually capable, because it’s a five-year lease.”
“There is no information on their background or the food they intend to serve,” he added. With a state-of-the-art Pavilion built and left essentially vacant for more than a year, Duggan said it was crucial to finally get the deal done.
“We’ve got this beautiful building and we’re not using it,” Duggan said. “The pandemic gave us a grace period where it would have been closed anyway. But summer is coming.” Desiring the restaurant to open as soon as possible and to run as efficiently as it can, Duggan said he intends on consulting its operators to ensure the utmost quality is delivered. “We want that restaurant open and we want it to be a success,” Duggan said. “We want music on weekends. We want people to dance.”
“It’s not my role to interfere, but it is my role to engage all community players and work towards success and prosperity for everybody,” he added. Duggan is hopeful that the restaurant will offer a variety of fried foods and canteen delicacies. “That’s exactly where you go to get the food that you’re not supposed to eat every day,” Duggan said.
While happy that there will finally be a restaurant in the Marina after working for so long to get it done, Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau said she’s disappointed that the lease does not include a clause obligating the restaurant to recycle, compost, or not use Styrofoam. “I think the city missed an opportunity to be a good leader in terms of residual waste management,” Bureau said.
Excited to try out the restaurant when it opens, Bureau noted that the entrepreneur does have experience in the restaurant business and is from Aylmer. She added that the restaurant has plans of offering live entertainment when public safety measures are lifted. In the coming weeks, the Pavilion should open to the public with access to washrooms, Bureau said, adding that the city is also working on outdoor spring programming to be deployed in the coming months.
Noting people’s complaints from last summer regarding the lack of greenery in front of the Pavilion, causing weeds to overtake the space, Bureau said the city recently launched a call for tendering to find a landscaping company to ensure the restaurant looks nice and lush with outdoor vegetation when it opens. She said that it didn’t get completed last year because the space was in a flood zone and required evaluation to see if it was okay to grow plants there.