Vandals attack upscale restaurants in a gentrified Montreal neighborhood

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: A new cozy coffee shop can be a sign that a neighborhood is changing for the better but sometimes when a run down neighborhood starts gentrifying there is friction too. Take the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood in Montreal in Canada. It has long had a reputation being a rough part of the city. Now where there used to be bikers, addicts and prostitutes there are hip bars and restaurants. That change has not been smooth though, in fact recently it has been kind of violent. A number of those fine dining establishments and trendy bars have been targeted by vandals. Maithieu Menard is the owner of Le Chasseur, a restaurant that was targeted recently.

Maithieu Menard: My friend said to me we are attacked. So, I just came to the restaurant and saw that my windows were just broken and I see a hammer inside my restaurant.

Werman: So, somebody just threw a hammer into the window?

Menard: Yeah, yeah because it just trying to throw some bricks but the the bricks just doesn't work. They just try it with the hammer.

Werman: I gather your restaurant wasn't the only one that got hit by vandals?

Menard: No we are four.

Werman: Who did this, did anybody, or any group claim responsibility?

Menard: I don't know who they are, I just know I am the victim of what? Of change? An evolution of the neighborhood, it's not my fault, so I don't know who did this but maybe the police will catch him.

Werman: Wasn't there a letter attached to the brick or this hammer?

Menard: not at my restaurant the other one see a letter around the bricks but..

Werman: What did that letter say?

Menard: Say you are not in security, you are not in your place and we will catch you small bourgeois.

Werman: Maithieu why did you open a restaurant in this neighborhood?

Menard: Because I live here for ten years, every time I want to drink a beer or eat some good food I was just to the other neighborhood, the street. One day I wake up and said I will open a restaurant, a good restaurant in Hochelaga because a lot of people like me have to go away to eat fine and drink good cocktails and something like that. So I just was trying to open it and it's a success. So...

Werman: Do you understand the hard feelings among people who used to live in this neighborhood and are now feeling squeezed out by high rents and places like your restaurant that they probably can't afford?

Menard: Maybe some people don't have the money to come at my restaurant and it's okay but in Hochelaga you have a lot of fast food or other restaurants maybe they can afford them. I am not sure I am the guy that provoked or changed the situation in Hochelaga. I am not a good target for sure.

Werman: Maithieu what are you going to do to cope with the problem aside from getting a hammer proof window?

Menard: I am doing nothing, I just continue to make great food and continue to serve clients. You know you want to throw a brick in my windows okay let's go and we will change the window and some customers came at my restaurant last week and said you know what Maithieu we are here because we know you have trouble and you know just please take stay and continue . You are good faces of the neighborhood and we want you. So, I receive more then affection when this situation came.

Werman: Maithieu Menard the owner of Le Chasseur in the Montreal neighborhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Thanks very much and the best of luck.

Menard: Thank you.