This past weekend Sprudge.com editors Zachary Carlsen and Jordan Michelman traveled to Montreal, Quebec as speakers at the first Barista Nation event of 2014. And discovered a cafe policy so shocking, so out of the ordinary that it demands sharing with the wider world. Because there in Montreal, Michelman and Carlsen stumbled upon a cafe with a very strict ordinance.
A cafe that won’t let its patrons poop.
“Numero Un Seulement”, reads the sign on the door at Cafe Aux Marron, a small, intimate shop serving a variety of Canadian and American roasters, located on a snowy sidestreet just a few rue from the McGill University campus in downtown Montreal.
Roughly translated, the sign means “Number #1 Only”, a slang colloquialism that Marron likely picked up from its American transplant clientele. The bathroom itself is a one door petite unisex affair, located directly adjacent to the cafe’s small seating area and coffee bar.
The reasoning behind the policy? “Logique“, says Marque Montpellier, the propriétaire at Marron, who would not allow himself to be photographed for this article. He went on to explain in French (and translated by Amy):
We sample coffee every day in this café. The clients’ odors are a serious problem. No perfume, no cologne, and no bowel movements are allowed in this café. It’s a strict policy. We are professional coffee tasters; we have to restrict all unpleasant odors in the café. Thank you for respecting this policy.
And what about his staff? Banning a normal, healthy bodily function must be an unpleasant policy for baristas working 8 hour shifts. “Notre personnel ne défèquent pas” Montpellier told Sprudge, which translated roughly means “our staff does not poop.”
Personnel retention is a challenge, concedes Montpellier, but it’s worth it in the name of pursuing his vision for Cafe Aux Marron. “Nous souffrons du café,” Montpellier said, evoking the wider sense of suffering for quality familiar to all service professionals.
Montpellier, who was unwilling to give a statement to Sprudge in English, closed our interview by declaring “Sans numero deux, notre politique nous libere completement.” In the name of fair reporting, we later heard him flirting in perfect English with a young American McGill student.