Delicious Library

Downtown Restaurant Nourishes Mind and Body

  • Burritoville will loan books free of charge and without late fees. Photo Erin Sparks

The ringing of acoustic strings and the laughs of lively children filled Burritoville’s three-floor complex on Sept. 25.

For the second anniversary of the Bishop Street restaurant, Burritoville’s owners launched a library on the building’s third floor. Membership and book lending is free of charge, with no late fees.

“The library just developed because I started [accumulating] lots of books from moving from place to place,” said Jono Aitchison, one of the restaurant’s owners. “The [books are lent out using an] honour system. If they’re out for too long, we’ll just send out a simple e-mail to remind them.”

The Quebec Public Interest Research Group had considered it an alternative resource library and offered Burritoville an invitation to register it to their database. Other organizations involved in the alternative resource library database are the Center for Community Organizations, which lends out books that promote social justice, and the Sexual Assault Center of the McGill Student Association.

QPIRG coordinator Ashley Fortier said that “[QPIRG approached Aitchison] because he had been giving a lot of books to our prisoner program,” an initiative that delivers reading material to prisoners.

“The general focus is their materials are available for free, that you don’t have to be a member of the library, the materials are in a social justice or environmental justice mandate,” Fortier said. “The general purpose is to network and provide as many materials as possible. Part of QPIRG’s mandate is to break the academic bubble. People on campus have a lot of privileges and we have to expand on it.”

Aitchison added that “the exchange of ideas should be as free as possible.”

Although a library is not a typical extension of a restaurant, Aitchison said it is a completely fitting extension to Burritoville’s mission statement.

“Our mission is to nourish,” said Aitchison, who partnered up with Stephen Aitchison and Dave Tamas for the opening of their downtown location. “We’re not just selling food, we’re trying to build a cultural space.”

The lack of said cultural space downtown gave the Burritoville trio incentive to open one in the city’s core after establishing a similar restaurant in Notre Dame de Grace six years ago. The NDG branch has since closed.

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