Already busy since the arrival of good weather, traders thrash with impatience as the first “real” Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) arrives in three years and expect monstrous traffic, albeit at times the shortage of employees limit opportunities.
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“These 11 days are the equivalent of a 13th month in terms of income for us. We are already having a crazy summer, but we expect to break everything! ”, Assures Mathieu Cloutier, of Ninkasi Bar & Bistro, in rue Saint-Jean.
Festival attendees who grabbed tickets for this first post-pandemic edition of the FEQ at lightning speed, much to the delight of retailers (see more text), obviously weren’t the only ones bored with the event.
Businessmen from all sectors of Old Quebec and Saint-Jean-Baptiste are eagerly preparing to deal with the situation.
“With the need to get people out, the attendance rate is expected to be higher than in recent editions. And this is good for us. We really look forward to an exceptional year, “said Jonathan Ollat, president of Action promotion Grande Allée.
Reservations are flying
After two years of pandemic that caused rather modest summers in the region, even the holding of the internationally renowned event is enough to make the hoteliers in the area smile.
“This is an unmissable event for us. Our two hotels are already practically full for the two weekends of the festival ”, launches Aude Lafrance-Girard, president of the Cogirès Group, owner of the Hotel Château Bellevue and the Hotel Château Laurier.
On the side of the Hotel Le Concorde, we invite customers to hurry up if they want to take a seat at the “Ciel!”, The revolving restaurant located at the top of the building and which directly overlooks the Plain of Abraham during the show.
“It’s usually madness. Places are selling like hot cakes! ” explains Manon Fortin, director of operations at the plant.
Problems still present
Despite everything, the shortage of manpower will not spare the local restaurateurs, who will do everything to provide the best possible service.
For some, the ban on taking holidays during this period, while others will reduce their menu to its simplest expression. All with the aim of maintaining the most adequate service possible.
“This festival is always good for us. But we will not be able to open on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We have no choice, with downsizing, “says François Blais, of Bistro B on avenue Cartier.
Baptism with fire
Several restaurateurs in Old Quebec are currently busy training their employees to be mentally and physically ready for the surge of customers that will increase during the Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ).
Many of these traders had to give up their experienced staff during the pandemic. And since the FEQ, in its usual format, hasn’t been held since 2019, most of their workforce isn’t really aware of the extent of the event’s impact on their work.
“There is a lot of work on our part to train our employees so that they are ready to welcome everyone. It’s the kind of event you can’t really know what it’s about until you’ve experienced it, ”says Jonathan Ollat, co-owner of the Atelier and Ophelia.
Taxi to the appointment
The return from the eventful end of the evening will also delight taxi drivers, who approach the event “with confidence”. “Our members are motivated because they see that there is work to be done,” says Luc Selesse, communications director of Taxi Coop.
According to him, the number of vehicles on the road on concert nights will be even higher than in 2019, the last regular year of the FEQ. “Currently, we should have between 50 and 60 more cars,” he says.
To be able to find a car after a concert, Luc Selesse advises festival attendees to use the Taxi Coop application and to “walk a bit to get away from the crowds” in order to stay a bit away from the hustle and bustle.
No means of pressure
The Capital Transport Network (RTC) union is preparing lobbying tactics for this summer, but festival attendees can be reassured why they shouldn’t touch the FEQ. The union mainly talks about visibility actions at the beginning.
The popular shuttle system is also expected to return. “The partnership with RTC continues,” assures the director general of the FEQ, Anne Hudon, specifying that a press conference should be held shortly before the start of the festival to explain how it works.