The merchants, already very busy since the good weather, are squirming with impatience ahead of the arrival of the first “real” Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) in three years, expecting monster traffic, even if staff shortages will sometimes limit opportunities .
• Also read: A “historical” rush
“In terms of income, these 11 days correspond to a 13th month for us. We’re already having a crazy summer, but we expect to smash everything!” assures Mathieu Cloutier of the Ninkasi Bar & Bistro on rue Saint-Jean.
The festival-goers, who snapped up tickets to this first post-pandemic edition of FEQ in a flash, to the delight of resellers (see other text), were obviously not the only ones bored with the event.
Business people from all sectors of Old Quebec and Saint-Jean-Baptiste are preparing impatiently to deal with the situation.
“Given the need to get people out, the attendance rate is expected to be higher than previous editions. And that’s good for us. We are really anticipating an exceptional year,” said Jonathan Ollat, President of Action Promotion Grande Allée.
After two years of the pandemic, which resulted in rather modest summers in the region, the holding of the internationally renowned event is enough to make the region’s hoteliers smile.
“This is an unmissable event for us. Our two hotels are already practically fully booked for the two weekends of the festival,” says Aude Lafrance-Girard, President of the Cogirès Group, which owns the Hotel Château Bellevue and the Hotel Château Laurier.
On the Hôtel Le Concorde side, we invite our customers to hurry up if they want to snag a seat at the “Ciel!”, the revolving restaurant located at the top of the building and with uninterrupted views of the Plains of Abraham offers indicates.
“Usually it’s madness. The places are going like hotcakes!” explains Manon Fortin, the operations manager of the facility.
Problems still exist
Despite everything, the labor shortage will not spare local restaurateurs, who are doing everything they can to offer the best possible service.
For some there is a holiday ban during this time, for others the menu is reduced to the simplest. All with the aim of maintaining the best possible service.
“This festival is always positive for us. But we will not be able to open on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. With the downsizing, we have no other choice,” says François Blais from Bistro B on Avenue Cartier.
baptism of fire
Several restaurateurs in Old Quebec are currently training their staff to be mentally and physically ready for the surge of customers that will surge during the Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ).
Many of these retailers have had to go without their experienced staff during the pandemic. And since the FEQ has not taken place in its usual form since 2019, the majority of the workforce is not really aware of how much the event is affecting their work.
“There is a lot of work to be done on our side to train our staff so that they are ready to receive everyone. It’s the kind of event where you don’t really know what it is until you experience it for yourself,” says Jonathan Ollat, co-owner of Atelier and Ophelia.
Taxis at the meeting point
Returning from the busy end of the evening will also please taxi drivers, who approach the event “with confidence”. “Our members are motivated because they see that there is work to be done,” says Taxi Coop communications director Luc Selesse.
According to him, on concert evenings the number of vehicles will even be higher than in 2019, the last regular year of the FEQ. “We should currently have between 50 and 60 more cars,” he says.
To find a car after a concert, Luc Selesse advises festival-goers to use the Taxi Coop app and “walk out of the crowd for a bit” to get away from the hustle and bustle a bit.
The Capital Transport Network (RTC) union is preparing print tactics for this summer, but festival-goers can rest easy knowing they shouldn’t touch the FEQ. At the beginning, the union spoke mainly of visibility campaigns.
The popular shuttle system will also be there again. “The partnership with the RTC continues”, assures the Director General of the FEQ, Anne Hudon, specifying that a press conference will be held shortly before the festival starts to explain how it works.