As for restaurants and wine import agencies, the strike by warehouse and fixture staff at SAQ branches is another heavy blow that has been added to the list.
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However, many of the import agencies we spoke to refuse to speak publicly. “Every time we do this we get slapped on our fingers by SAQ,” says a private importer.
The phrase “wine mafia” was repeated a lot during our conversations yesterday.
For the 400 or so import agencies in Quebec, this strike will result in a loss of, at least, a business week’s income, because deliveries from SAQ warehouses to restaurants are made on a weekly basis.
Already, from February to May, private importers were unable to place orders due to the lack of space in the state company’s warehouses.
- Listen to Benoît Dutrizac’s interview with Michel Gratton, CUPE Consortium advisor and SAQ file manager, on QUB Radio:
As for restaurants, we’ve given up on offering less extensive wine cards for now.
“I’ve placed so many big orders in anticipation of the Christmas parties, I don’t know if I’ll be attending,” explains Sam G. Mackay, a bartender at Joséphine’s Restaurant in Montreal.
Despite the troubles it caused him, he still supported the guild members. “The state should pay them better,” he argues.
At Mitch’s Deli sandwich shop, whose wine list doesn’t envy great Quebec tables, we’ve already made a reservation.
“I’m like a teddy bear,” says owner Maxime Gagné, “but I understand those who worry about it, because everything is blocked in SAQ, and everything goes through there.”
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