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Cafe Perk Avenue

  • 1st Mar, 2005 at 12:48 AM

On Saturday, I was up in the Plateau looking at houses. I had finished going to a dilapidated house whose tenant was desperately trying to sublet. I had walked up and down the streets just looking at places, and writing down telephone numbers to call up later. I was waiting for another appointment to see a flat, one that I would eventually reject as being too small.

After a while of this walking about, I became cold and hungry. This is approximately when I passed Cafe Perk Avenue (4872, Av. du Parc, Montréal, QC). Outside are signs advertising home-cooked meals, chalkboards advertising free Spanish lessons, and a handwritten flyer encouraging musicians to use the piano within.

The owner unlocked the door as I peered into the dark café. She apologised for opening late as she beckoned me to go inside. It's a really big place. There is beautiful hardwood flooring and wonderfully painted stucco. There are track lamps that illuminate the huge room that is filled with eclectic tables, random chairs, couches and coffee tables. The only way to describe the atmosphere is bohemian. In the back corner is an upright piano, not a very good one, but it is kept in tune. Beside it is a microphone, conveniently placed to pick up the sounds of a guitar. Along another wall are computers and a wireless router. Along a third are racks of periodicals, papers, and a basket for books.

She asked me what I want and I glanced at the menu. I decided to have crèpes avec jambon et fromage. She turned on her stove and placed a cast-iron frying pan on the burner. She made a nice thin one and then another. They smelled fabulous and tasted like summer in Jean-Talon market.

She brought me my espresso and we sat a while to talk. Her name is Lucia and she came from Spain a long time ago. She had been a draughtswoman in construction, and accountant for a software firm, and now a small business owner.

But all is not rosy in her world. In fact, her restaurant shows all the signs and portents of being a disaster. Her restaurant is too big, so it is never full and her rent is obviously her biggest overhead. She works alone and could never keep up with the orders if her restaurant was full. Although her cooking is decent, it isn't very fast nor skilled, so she just can't bang out orders quickly. She really does need extra help. But then again, she doesn't have enough capital or customers at all to support this. She must be hemorrhaging money. Which is too bad, because I like the place and I like her.

If you can, go now before it disappears.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
1st Mar, 2005 07:58 (UTC)
i've never been but will have to try - that piano sounds too tempting - was it very smokey?
1st Mar, 2005 14:33 (UTC)
Not smokey.

But then again, I was her first and only customer while I was there.
21st Mar, 2008 07:01 (UTC)
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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )