Food

Here’s a big hand for 12 year old cookie entrepreneur Matthew Liebman

Twelve year old Matthew Liebman is one of three sons to Howard Liebman, a longtime political strategist to the likes of Irwin Cotler and Denis Coderre and current government relations director for Air Transat and Willingdon Elementary School  Grade 4 English teacher Heather Leckner. I have known his grandparents, Rick and Gloria Leckner, for most of my life. Rick, of course, was the legendary traffic  reporter on CJAD and for many years an investor relations and PR guru to corporate giants.

Given his lineage, it was not surprising to hear that young Matthew has decided to put his baking skills to good use during these times of confinement. The Côte Saint-Luc resident and District 2 constituent of mine is impressive.

After his full day of remote learning is done as a Grade 6 graduating student at JPPS,  Matthew dons his apron to bake dozens of fresh cookies for his growing client list.

Helping to keep track of orders and behind  the beautiful packaging is mom Heather. Swift local drop off deliveries (free in CSL, Hampstead, NDG and Montreal West) have been entrusted to dad, Howard, to allow the baker to focus on his creations in the kitchen.

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Matthew Liebman gets down to business.

To start, a simple menu of fresh-baked classic chocolate chip cookies or sugar cookies are being offered, attractively priced at $10 per dozen or $18 for two dozen. Different varieties are in development in the test kitchen. The cookies make an excellent dessert or snack at home or are the ideal gift for others.

Matthew’s Bakery invites clients to get their Father’s Day orders in early!

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Some of the finished product.

"As we are all in this together, Matthew’s Bakery will generously donate 10 percent of sales to MADA and The Depot,"  mom Heather says of the  organization formerly known as the NDG Food Bank.

You may place orders for these delicious cookies at matthewsbakery13@gmail.com.

Now chocolate chip cookies happen to be my weakness so I was more than happy to take a container home and try. The verdict is already in and everyone at our dinner table gave a big thumbs up to the decadent dessert. I highly recommend this purchase!

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Volunteers step up to ensure that our seniors can get their groceries

One of the greatest concerns for isolated seniors during this COVID-19 pandemic has been  the need for groceries. There are many individuals who do not have any family or friends to help them get the basic necessities to fill their fridge.

That is where some extraordinary volunteers stepped in.

Councillor Mitchell  Kujavsky, whose  wife Jordana just recently gave birth to their third child, has been one of the leaders of this  initiative with The Nellie Philanthropy Foundation, headed by noted community activist David Lisbona.  They have been going to IGA at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre on a daily basis between 6:30 am  to 8 am (prior to the store opening) and in the evening from 8 pm to  10 pm (after closing) to shop for local seniors. “We use the evening time to pack dry goods and non-perishables in preparation for the next morning's completion of the day's orders,” he said. “To be clear, this initiative is only for CSL seniors who do not have any help from family or friends in and around Montreal!”

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Melissa Margles, David Lisbona, Mitch Kujavsky and Pam Kujavsky.

ujavsky’s sister Pam and Melissa Margles have been coordinating the volunteers who were originally sent to them from Nellie Philanthropy (and the Kujavskys’ own outreach), as well as working with Peter Lipari, the owner of the CSL IGA.

Since IGA's online and phone ordering systems have been overwhelmed, the Kujavsky team and Nellie Philanthropy worked with the store to develop a system as follows:

  • Seniors call the special grocery line at 514-532-1277 and are instructed to leave their name, phone number and address;
  • Pam triages those messages to her "caller" volunteers;
  • Volunteers call seniors back the same day (or following day depending on timing) to take their grocery orders;
  • Every evening, orders are printed and delivered to IGA in preparation for the "packer" volunteers to shop;
  • Every morning, orders are finalized and checked out, then organized by district to dispatch to the "delivery" volunteers;
  • Once an order is delivered and they have amounts in hand, seniors are called by specific volunteers (¨Pam and Mitch primarily) to collect credit card information so that they may be charged back by the city since Côte Saint-Luc is now fronting the money for the groceries directly to IGA on a weekly basis.
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    The team fills their baskets.

For B'nai Brith House, Château B'nai Brith and Saint Patrick Square, the orders are collected directly by building management so the only steps required by the team are the packing/shopping and delivery steps. Cheques are collected by building management as well, payable to the City of Côte Saint-Luc. 

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Quite a load of groceries for volunteers to deliver.

 “Peter Lipari  has been an incredible partner in our initiative and should really be recognized for adapting to our needs and going out of his way to make sure our isolated seniors have been looked out for,” said Kujavsky.

So what do others do for groceries?

Click  on grocery and food stores with delivery on the city’s COVID-19 web link here.

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The Quartier Cavendish IGA.

The Quartier Cavendish IGA has been opening and closing like a garage door in recent weeks.  There was a legitimate concern from staff of catching COVID-19, especially when they saw snowbirds with dark tans at the cash register. In recent days they  reopened. Some constituents advised  me  that the protocol is  quite strict, but that in fact is gaining good marks.

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Qualitifruits has a lot more than just fruits.

Qualitifruits  has a good system in place. You call in advance and make your order. Let them know of your arrival and  they will bring the food to you. Delivery is also  available.  Next door at Nosherz, owner Robert Vineberg tells me he is even doing deliveries of bread products, prepared meals and other products on his own. At Caldwell Provisions call in your order (be prepared to press redial a lot) and they will deliver. Ditto for Fruiti Maruti.

The Depot, formerly the NDG Food Depot, also  serves Côte Saint-Luc and we do have residents sadly who are unable  to  put food  on their tables. This  is  where  the Depot steps in. Our Library Services  has been working as liaisons.

On their website they provide the following message:We have greatly expanded our Emergency Food Basket program while suspending other programming to allow people to stay home and respect social distancing protocols. Since March 20, 2020, we have been providing extra-large baskets of staples and fresh foods to families in financial difficulty across our territory. We have moved to a home delivery model, reaching 250-400 households weekly. Before this crisis, one in every three children in our community  lived below the poverty line. With many more people facing economic precarity, we’re seeing hundreds of new registrations for our emergency services. To meet this increased demand we are using 3-4 times as much food as normal — in our first two weeks we have sourced, portioned and distributed over 23,000 lbs of food!

Federation CJA has stepped up as they always do with a community crisis response fund in support of the vulnerable. As of this writing they have raised $942,748 towards a goal of $1 million. This includes food vouchers and kosher meals, for families and individuals in need. They took care of  Passover as well.

MADA Community Services has continued to supply its  monthly food baskets. Pickups are generally arranged, but goods are delivered for those who are isolated or quarantined. The baskets include some basic necessities like diapers. “We will be starting cooking and delivering home cooked meals, several at a time,” says  Stuart Miller, their head of finance. Contact Jessica at  514-342-4969 ext. 770


Local food and pharmacy services remain open, but be respectful of others

Rumours that Caldwell Provisions is closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not correct. I spoke to owner George Sparagis  today and he said that a new protocol will be put into place immediately, with fewer people allowed inside at a time. People can drop off or phone in their regular Passover orders. Curbside pickup will be available and the normal delivery service still remains in place. Give your credit card over the phone (514-481-0365)  and your order will be left at the front door. They will be closed this Sunday to give the staff a well-deserved break.

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George Sparagis

 Qualitifruits and Norsherz on Westminster Avenue will also remain open, again limiting the number of people inside.

“We are allowing two customers at a time in the store and they have to use the sanitizer at the door,” says Emma Salvati of Qualifruits. “For those people who just returned from Florida, we ask that they not come in. We will deliver. Customers need to be patient.”

Robert J. Vineberg of Nosherz says he is adopting a similar policy. He will also offer delivery for a nominal  charge.  He also wished to tell me that his puzzle store in LaSalle. Jigsaw Jungle,   remains open and they ship daily right to your front door." Puzzles are a great way to pass time and keep the mind sharp," he said. "We boast one of the largest selections  in the world." You can call Nosherz at 514-484-0445 or email  orders@nosherz.com.

J &R Kosher Meats at Quartier Cavendish are offering curbside pickups from their back door. You can get the order form on their website and e-mail in your request. "Specify on your order whether it’s a back door pick up or delivery," explains Susie Nemes. "List exactly the items you want,  whether they are raw or cooked. Please include your credit card information, including the security code. We will try our best to complete your order for the date that you ask."

What concerns me are the people who are not self-isolating for 14 days,   be it those who have come back from Florida or been in the company of someone who was diagnosed positive for COVID-19 and sadly we know that those numbers are rising here. Today we learned that someone who did their prayers at Beth Zion on  Hudson Avenue was diagnosed. An elderly resident of the King David Seniors Residence did too after she attended a family wedding, opening the floodgates for others to become infected.  Some who went to Beth Chabad CSL were diagnosed and we  are now asking anyone who was there self-isolate.

So please, if you fall into any of these categories please please please do not go out to shop for groceries or the pharmacy! Mayor Mitchell Brownstein will be issuing another robocall to all homes and running an advertisement on CJAD to again highlight these points.

The Quartier Cavendish has basically shut down its entire operation, save for the staples.

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This is how social distancing is being handled at stores in Denmark

Pharmaprix  at Quartier Cavendish now has tight controls. IGA at that venue and the CSL Shopping Centre has shortened its hours. If it looks crowded either do not go inside or maintain the proper space apart. Passover shopping will be lighter for residents this year. Our state of emergency prohibits gatherings of 10 or more.   Passover seders should only be held with people who live under the same roof as you. At this moment we are all taking risks every time  we leave our homes.

Solly the Caterer prepares food for restaurants and bakeries all over the island of Montreal. They also   make over 1,100 meals daily for daycares and supply meals to veterans and seniors. During this crisis owner Mitchell Kadanoff and his team are delivering fresh meals  to your door, individually packaged or in bulk. It will be made in a safe and sanitized kitchen. “Our prices will remain the same,” says Mitch. “ We will waive all delivery fees and credit card charges. We want the community to know that Solly’s will make sure no one goes hungry at this time. It is best to email them 24 hours in advance to Info@sollythcaterer.com as the phone lines are pretty busy (514-485-8818).

Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather states: "Everyone must respect federal, provincial and municipal rules. Everyone who has returned to Canada must self quarantine for 14 days. This is not optional. They cannot do anything other than what is permitted by public health. Those over 70 should stay home,  except for emergencies or walking alone or with someone who lives with them. No churches or synagogues or any other religious institution should be operating no matter where they are located. People should pray at home. Nobody should be visiting other people’s homes."

I will continue to update this article with other food news people provide me with.


Qualitifruits is back in Côte Saint-Luc and thriving

Qualitifruits is back and people from all over the island of Montreal are heading to 5818 Westminster Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc (corner of Mackle Road) to shop at this one of a kind store. Pasquale, Albina, Babu, Emma, Marvin, Frank and the rest of the team are there to greet you.

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Marvin, Emma, Babu, Albina and Pasquale.

 There are so many things I love about Qualitfruits. Not only do they have an exceptional selection of fruits and vegetables, including many items you cannot find anywhere else, but the layout is a wide and easy to navigate. The fruits are cut up and placed in either plastic containers or wrapped packages making it so easy to serve at home. Not all fruit stores offer this type of service. They do it at grocery stores, but the “quality” is usual sub-par at best. If you want a large fruit platter, they will make them to order for you.

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There is good space at Qualitifruits,

Qualitifruits is best known for its array of fresh meals and side dishes, mastered by chef Frank. Let them do the cooking for you. Be it fish, chicken or meat, dinner is served. I especially appreciate the sides: potatoes, cauliflower rice, mushrooms, green beans, zucchini and much more. The refrigerated windows have a wide selection to choose from. They can also cater your private event, notably barbeques in season.

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Prepared meals and side dishes are excellent.

This is the store’s third incarnation. When they closed last time Pasquale promised they would be back. His team took the necessary time to reorganize and so far they have knocked it out of the park.

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A great selection of fresh fruit.

Qualitifruits can be reached at 514-309-0169.


Sfingy's kosher donut shop (and much more) opens at Quartier Cavendish; owners dream big

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and I were at the Quartier Cavendish today to formally welcome Sfingy’s to our community. The new kosher donut shop officially opened on July 7, with the husband and wife team of Marvin  Fuks and Maya Lallouz working endless hours and from what we saw a loyal following has already materialized.

This is good news for the Quartier, which already  has the MK certified Café de L’Avenue. The latter has been a success since its launch two years ago.

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Mayor Brownstein and I with Marvin Fuks and Maya Lallouz. (Darryl Levine photo)

 Sfingy’s  is located  in the old mmmuffins spot. It is open Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 8 pm, Fridays from 8 am to 2 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 8 pm. That is quite a challenge for this young couple, who have three year old  Ariel Mordechai  and a nine month old Coby Abner at home. Marvin gets in by 6 am to start making the donuts. They also have, muffins, croissants,  waffles and crepes,  popular  breakfast and lunch options.

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A cookie monster donut.

While I have been on an exercise  kick and watching carefully what I eat the past week, I had no will power to resist one of these donuts. Let me tell you the one I sampled was equal if not better than Krispy Kreme, which is now  opening new stores in Montreal

Sfingy’s  has quickly become  a hit on the special events circuit, with orders coming in for weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties and baby showers. On Fridays, clients pour in to purchase donuts for Shabbat dessert. “We make the donuts with different themes as well,” said Marvin. “The kids love that. We have an edible printer.”

The name “Sfingy’s” derives from the Moroccan donut Sfinge, but with an Ashkenazi twist. Hence, Sfingy’s.  They are also making mini Sfinges in ball form, mini gourmet donuts with out of this world toppings, smoothies, cookies, muffins, coffee, and much more,” Fuks explained.  “I will always be trying to develop new recipes for new products to launch in the store. Our customers will be able to choose from many different toppings and sauces to put on top of the Sfingy’s. In the beginning, we will be offering fried donuts and Sfingy’s, but I am working on a baked version, as well as a gluten free and vegan option.”

As the city councillor for District 2, which encompasses the Quartier Cavendish, I extend a warm welcome  to a new business.

Sfingy’s is on Facebook and Instagram.

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Councillor Mitch Kujavsky enjoys a donut.

 

 


Another successful McHappy Day assists our Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund

The City of Côte Saint-Luc and our employees have beeb supporting McHappy Day at McDonald's for many years. But in 2017 I was approached by , Pierre Brunet,  McDonald's franchisee at the Côte Saint-luc Shopping Centre location.  Every year, McDonald’s Canada franchisees and crew across the country celebrate McHappy Day , an annual day of community giving in support of Ronald McDonald Houses and other local children’s charities. On this day, for every Big Mac®, Happy Meal® or hot McCafé® beverage purchased, $1 is  donated to children’s charities across Canada.

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With some city staff and Mitchell Libenstein.

Pierre  asked me if I could come up with a specific fund the profits from his McHappy Day could be directed to. I looked right back  at him and realized what would make a lot of sense. With that the Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund was born. Monies raised are being used for assistance to local families who may be experiencing financial difficulties in registering their children in our programs, for families with special needs children requiring additional support at our programs and for parks equipment intended for children with disabilities.  It has been a huge success, with the CSL Men's Club getting involved and other parties. It is also now linked to our CSL Summer Golf Classic.

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Trish McKenzie

I spent some time with our staff who were working  hard at this year’s McHappy Day. Thanks to Parks and Recreation Department Director Cornelia Ziga for staying all day and overseeing the shifts. Some of our staff worked behind the counter serving customers. Others sold small items which also helped the cause. It was also nice to see a restaurant legend of sorts Mitchell Libenstein, former owner of the former Mitchell's at the YM-YWHA who now works in management for McDonald's

Bravo to all!

 


McHappy Day boosts our new fund for kids and gives me an experience to be a McDonald's chef

A year and  a half ago at the Côte Saint-Luc Winter Carnival, Pierre Brunet approached me about McHappy Day.

Pierre, of course, is the franchisee of the McDonald’s restaurants on Côte Saint-Luc Road and at Quartier Cavendish (soon to close). He also runs more than a dozen other locations in the city.

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Councillors David Tordjman (with baby), Oren Sebag, Recreation chief Cornelia Ziga and Trish McKenzie.

Every year, McDonald’s Canada franchisees and crew across the country celebrate McHappy Day , an annual day of community giving in support of Ronald McDonald Houses and other local children’s charities. On Wednesday May 2, for every Big Mac®, Happy Meal® or hot McCafé® beverage purchased, $1 will be donated to RMHC® and children’s charities across Canada

Pierre always adds a local twist for his restaurants and he wanted my advice for any program that might benefit children. I immediately scheduled a meeting with Harold Cammy from our Parks and Recreation Department and we began to brainstorm. What we came up with was the Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund. Monies raised would be used for assistance to local families who may be experiencing financial difficulties in registering their children in our programs, for families with special needs children requiring additional support at our programs and for parks equipment intended for children with disabilities.  From last year’s McHappy Day and other funds raised from donors and most notably our CSL Men’s Club, $8,549 has already been raised.

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That is me and Tanya. The hair net is mandatory. Just ask Gilles Duceppe.

I took part in this year’s McHappy Day. We await totals, but we will clearly surpass  the $10,000 mark. Some bursaries have already been handed out and we will have more to announce at our CSL Golf Classic July 5.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, members of council and many of our dedicated staff were at McDonald’s to support the cause. Parks and Recreation Director Cornelia Ziga and her team were selling McDonald’s sock for $5, with proceeds going to the Fund.


As for me, I went into the kitchen and helped prepare orders with City Manager Tanya Abramovitch. Wow, Tanya was a real pro while I found the entire process very challenging. I gained a whole new appreciation for what these employees do and how fast they must work behind the scenes. Tanya then confided in me that she had worked at McDonald’s in her late teens. Thanks to John and some of the other staffers who guided us. We saw the orders on the big screen. Buns had to be toasted, the different toppings applied and then the main item - be it a burger, chicken or filet of fish-  put on. This is hard work and after an hour I was completely beat. Tanya did a three hour shift and the energetic mom of two year old twins probably could have kept on going if she did not have a meeting to attend.

 Thanks to everyone who made this day a success. We will have printed material regarding the scholarship fund available online soon.


Montreal's plastic bag ban does not apply in Côte Saint-Luc

On August 23, 2016, the city of Montreal adopted By-law 16-051,  prohibiting the distribution of certain types of shopping bags in retail stores.  

Reusable bags

The ban for merchants offering light plastic bags to consumers took effect on January 1, 2018. It applies to all establishments whose main activity is the sale of merchandise at the retail level. A grace period for compliance will be granted through June 5, 2018. Banned are: conventional plastic shopping bags (a thickness of less than 50 microns) and Oxo-degradable, oxo-fragmentable, biodegradable shopping bags, whatever their thickness.

Now let me advise you that this ban does not apply in Côte Saint-Luc. While I always have reusable bags in my trunk, be it for the grocery store or the pharmacy, I do not believe we should adopt a similar by-law.  Is it fair for someone who makes an unplanned trip to a store or for a senior or an individual using public transit who does not have any reusable bags handy? Yes, I suppose you can buy a new reusable bag at a number of stores. But should we force that on anybody?

I will be the first person to urge people to bring their own bag. I have more than a dozen in my trunk and the collection keeps growing. When I went on holiday to Tampa, I made sure to pack a few reusable bags and I used them for all of my grocery store visits.

Just understand your geography. In Montreal,  not covered by the by-law  are plastic bags used exclusively to transport foodstuffs to the cash counter of a retail store or to protect them, for hygiene purposes, from direct contact with other items (fruits, vegetables, nuts, bulk confectionery, prepared foods, meat, fish, bread, dairy products, etc.).

Côte Saint-Luc City Council will be addressing this with some kind of policy in the not too distant future.


McHappy Day had extra meeting this year in Côte Saint-Luc

The new Pierre Brunet McDonald’s Parks and Recreation Bursary Program was given some high profile visibility on May 3  as McHappy Day was celebrated at the two McDonald’s locations  in Côte Saint-Luc and across the country.

I am proud to have initiated this new fund to help families who cannot afford to register their child in a program and taking into account requests from children with special needs. Proceeds from McHappy Day in CSL will kick start the fund and collections will continue at our annual Golf Classic in July.

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That is me at the left with Laura Trihas, Sarah Houle, Trish McKenzie and Ray Valiquette.

It was wonderful to see our CSL staff members, as well as Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and council, rally around the event. We all took different shifts, selling merchandise such as sock and notepads. Some like Trish McKenzie, Sarah Houle, Harold Cammy, Jordy Reichson, Ryan Nemeroff, Alvin Fishman and Mayor Brownstein went behind the counter and the drive thru to serve customers.

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Harold Cammy serves it up.

This marked the first time a McHappy Day focused on a Côte Saint-Luc charity – a brand new one at that. Pierre Brunet asked Harold and I for ideas. I shared this one with council and it was a hit

McHappy Day is a national fundraiser when McDonald's restaurants across Canada and their communities, employees, customers and special guests raise money together to help children in need. At the heart of McDonald’s community commitment is RMHC Canada, which is dedicated to giving sick children the one thing they need most: their families by supporting Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms across the country. RMHC provides families of sick children with a home-away-from-home or a place of peace and calm within a hospital.  

Anyone who wishes to donate to the fund can e-mail me at mcohen@cotesaintluc.org.

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Mayor Brownstein and Pierre Brunet.

 


Proud to have been part of McHappy Day

It was a pleasure for me once again to participate in the annual McHappy Day festivities at our local McDonald's at the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre.

Approximately 80 percent  of McDonald's restaurants in Canada are independently owned and operated by a local McDonald's franchisee. In the case of the  Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre locale, the Quartier Cavendish and at least another dozen spots, Pierre Brunet is the man at the helm. 

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With Allan J. Levine, Jacques Châles and Officer Pierre Blais.

McHappy Day is a national fundraiser. It’s when McDonald's restaurants across Canada and their communities, employees, customers and special guests raise money together to help children in need across Canada. Members of city council, staff and local police officers pitched in, working behind the counter and assisting with fundraising items.

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Suzanne Beaudry, Julie Bessette and Jean O'Malley.

 

I was pleased to chat with Jacques Châles, manager of customer relations. Officer Pierre Blais, whom only a few days earlier I saw trying to catch motorists running through stop signs, was soliciting donations. Commander Jean O'Malley, who is in fantastic physical condition, said he was having a "rare" Big Mac to support the cause along with Lieutenant Julie Bessette and ever so valuable secretary Suzanne Beaudry. Councillor Allan J. Levine was busy engaging in banter with a customer who had just turned 100 years old. Our Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson had a hairnet on and was helping on the production line.

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Jordy Reichson

We are only too happy to pitch in, especially if Pierre Brunet is involved. Stay tuned to an exciting announcement where Pierre is concerned. Profits from McHappy Day support Manoire Ronald McDonald and charities like the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre.  We, of course, have been connected to to Le Manoire for many years. This is a place (located in Côte des Neiges) where families from out of town with ill children can stay while their little ones are hospitalized.

Several of our staff from Parks and Recreation spent part of the day at the McDonald's franchise on Côte des Neiges Road.