After many birthdays, dinners for two and business lunches, Le Goût du large, Natashquan’s only year-round restaurant, will be serving its final meals on September 30th.
Posted at 6:00 am
Those who live in the mythical village of poet and singer Gilles Vigneault on the north coast will have to travel 150km if they want to settle with family and friends away from home. The nearest restaurant is actually in Havre-Saint-Pierre.
A 71-year-old dishwasher, just a cook preparing the dishes, students who came to lend a hand in the summer but recently left the dining room to return to school desks, jobs on display that attract no candidates. This has forced the three owners of Le Goût du large, who say they are “completely overwhelmed” with the combination of their administrative duties, table service and cooking, to close the restaurant for good within a month. A decision made “reluctantly,” assures Marina Landry, one of the three women at the head of Natashquan’s main gathering place, over the phone. There is the café L’Échouerie, but which is only open during the summer season, there is Mme landry
News of the closure was announced in mid-August The porter, a local newspaper. The restaurant, which is still open, has been for sale since autumn 2019. However, since no buyers came forward after all these years, we decided to close it. Finally.
“Not having a restaurant anymore, I never would have thought that we would get this far,” admits the 58-year-old owner, who comes from the village. But now the small team of six, with an average age of 64, is running out of breath and has to resign itself to closing down a gathering place that may have been short of guns but certainly lack customers, she says. Profitability was there.
Now what will the population of 277 residents do when they want to meet and have fun in Natashquan? “I can’t say that,” replies M.me Landry hesitantly. It sure is quiet. Maybe people gather in the houses for coffee. »
Go back. The trio, consisting of Mme Landry and two of her friends acquired the restaurant in 2015. Before them, it was a family that had run it since 1998. When they took over Le Goût du large – specializing in fish and seafood – the three women welcomed customers to their restaurant from morning to night, seven days a week. “That’s what we wanted,” says Marina Landry. This is the vocation we wanted to give to the restaurant. »
Over the years, the lack of staff became noticeable. They stopped offering breakfast, resigned themselves to closing on weekends and worked on a reduced schedule. Then since the beginning of summer we no longer serve food on Mondays.
At the beginning of the adventure, Le Goût du large had up to 14 employees in high season. “We had big plans,” says the owner with a hint of disappointment in her voice. The development of a terrace so that the guests of the restaurant on the banks of the Petite Rivière Natashquan can fully enjoy the landscape and the construction of a dock for kayak travelers were part of the plans.
On the side of the Municipal Corporation of Natashquan, the general director Denis Landry regrets the closure of this restaurant with about sixty seats. “A restaurant that closes in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve will be replaced by several others,” he gives as an example to explain the particular situation of Natashquan, where there is only one establishment of this type.
Devitalization, we are currently seeing the effects, he adds. This points to an even more critical situation.
Denis Landry, Director General of Natashquan Municipality
“Back then we had the church, the credit union and the restaurant. What remains of a community gathering place is the restaurant, adds Martin Vézina, vice president of public and government affairs for the Association Restoration Québec (ARQ). In this case, an important place is lost. »
With a few weeks to go before the closure, Marina Landry remains hopeful that buyers will come forward to ensure the survival of the place, which serves a growing number of tourists in addition to the local population. “It’s hard to invite people over to your house if you can’t offer them food. »
“I just wish a team of dynamic young people would come here and make it work,” she said. I have hope. I tell myself there’s no way this company won’t be taken over. You buy a safe bet. It works well, but it takes energy, a lot of energy. »
So far, is there reason to believe that potential buyers will be around the corner? “Not much is happening at the moment … I’ll admit it. »