We last spoke with Yogesh Patel of Mile End’s Depanneur Can-Pal (50 Maguire) in the fall of 2018. This past week, we ran into Yogesh as he was holding a social distancing barbecue outside the dep for passersby and friends. He talked to us about the ups and downs of running an essential service in a pandemic.
The Depset: A lot has changed since the last time we spoke to you! How has the COVID situation affected Depanneur Can-Pal?
Yogesh Patel: It’s been slow. The majority of our clients are from Ubisoft and they’re working from home. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. The neighbourhood people do their shopping at supermarkets, which is normal. Also not very many people in the area smoke. Ubisoft has a lot of employees from France, and they smoke a lot! So cigarette sales have gone down. The Ubisoft crowd also used to have 5 à 7 after work and stop by for beers. They’re great clients!
TD: Are you worried about the future of the store?
YP: Yes and no. It’s a little road bump in life. But whatever God gives you, you take it as is — that’s how I look at things. On the bright side, everybody’s very friendly and it’s a great neighbourhood. We try to be helpful, too. If some old lady calls and needs food delivered, we’ll go drop it off.
TD: Do you normally deliver?
YP: No. For essentials like bread and milk, especially for older folks, my heart opens up. I’m not going to deliver for a pack of cigarettes or a case of beer. I even had one older client ask for food on credit. I gave it to him on the house. I’m thinking about doing Uber Eats with the food, but I’m a bit skeptical because of the surcharge.
TD: Last time we talked a lot about your mother’s home-cooked food. Are you still serving the samosas and other dishes?
YP: We had to stop when COVID first started. Food sales went way down and it just didn’t make sense. Since the city has started reopening, we’ve started serving food again.
TD: It’s you, your mom and your dad that work here. How has COVID affected the family?
YP: My parents are at risk, but every 20 minutes we use Purell everywhere. We also have the plexiglass barrier. If someone comes in and they’re coughing, we tell them to wait outside for their order and disinfect the section they were in. My dad doesn’t do the shopping in person anymore. We order everything wholesale for delivery.
TD: I saw you put a rainbow poster in the window!
YP: Yeah! I have a printing business on the side. I saw [the rainbows] around the Mile End one day, and I thought, “This would be great!” I saw a lot of people taking pictures when we first put it up and it showed up in people’s feeds on Instagram. ■
For more Montreal depanneur profiles, see previous editions of Inspectah Dep here.