It’s the end of an era for a topless landmark in the Montreal borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
Waitresses at Restaurant Les Princesses d'Hochelaga have been serving eggs and pancakes to patrons nude from the waist up for 11 years.
The restaurant doesn’t have a permit to exhibit eroticism and can’t obtain one because of where it is located, near the Olympic Stadium.
After a series of legal battles with the City of Montreal over the past seven years, the restaurant owner has agreed to have the servers cover up.
Kim Menard, who has worked at the restaurant for two years, said the waitresses now wear jackets or minidresses.
“The business was much better before because you had a lot of people from United States [and] Ontario [who saw] on the internet we had nude girls,” she said, noting that the tourist business has dropped off.
She said she’s lost about half her tips since the restaurant made the change a few months ago.
According to the 2010 Quebec Superior Court ruling, the original offence that launched the court battle happened in October 2005, when an inspector found the restaurant offered table service, "by topless waitresses that had a small, transparent scarf around the waist leaving their genitals in full view."
Televisions in the restaurant were also showing pornographic films.
The restaurant's owners argued that the main purpose of the business was a restaurant and the erotic element was secondary, so they should be permitted to operate outside the city's prescribed zone.
They also argued they should be grandfathered based on the previous restaurant that operated in the space.
After an acquittal by a municipal court judge, Superior Court found the restaurant was breaking the bylaw by allowing its staff to serve topless. It also ruled there was no evidence to show the previous restaurant permitted topless serving staff.
There are several similar restaurants on the island of Montreal that may also be illegal, according to city zoning laws.
Liquor licence reinstated
The restaurant lost its liquor licence in 2008 and only recently regained it.
Borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Mayor Réal Ménard declined to comment. A city spokesperson said no one was available for comment on Wednesday.