Montreal restaurant owners upset about weeks of delivery problems at the SAQ

Some restaurant and bar owners around Montreal have been unable to get alcohol delivered for three weeks, after a computer problem at the SAQ partially shut down delivery orders.

The SAQ recently changed computer systems for the way it handles deliveries, and while the changeover went smoothly elsewhere in Quebec, an SAQ representative explained that because of the much larger number of restaurants and bars in Montreal, the system started glitching. 

Because all alcohol served in restaurants and bars in the province needs to be tagged by the SAQ, there is no other option for deliveries, meaning restaurant and bar owners and managers have to figure out how to get to one of the SAQ's special restaurant outlets.

That's a challenge, said Alex Bastide, who owns the L'Gros Luxe chain of restaurants around Montreal. 

"It's pretty challenging when most people on your staff don't have a car. It's a lot of cabbing, a lot of running around and chasing around for your booze."

"I've been spending more money on cabs, more money on my managers going there...it's definitely annoying."

While some deliveries are continuing, Dominique Tremblay from the Quebec Restaurant Association said restaurateurs should be proactive, and should not assume deliveries will work out.

"Don't wait for the delivery, go to get your alcohol by yourself."

Tremblay said the lack of deliveries places an extra burden on business owners.

"They have to wait in line to get alcohol because you're buying a lot, I don't think it's very nice for them and you don't have this time to waste when you're a restaurant owner."

While some restaurateurs have floated the idea of a lawsuit against the SAQ for the inconvenience and lost time and money, Bastide said he was skeptical about whether anything would happen to make it up to restaurant owners. 

"It's not going to happen, it's the government, there's no such thing as compensation. It's part of the daily challenge of running a business."

An SAQ representative said that deliveries are slowly resuming, but there could be problems for several weeks to come.