Being Boustan

It’s four o’clock on a grey early-winter afternoon, when Imad Smaidi arrives promptly. In a smart blue shirt and red-and-white tie, he looks restlessly at the crutch under his arm which has kept him from his usual post this past week. Instead, Smaidi’s son, an easy-going 16-year-old, is manning the counter at Boustan today.

Smaidi hobbles to a stool, shakes my hand and invites me to sit down. When asked for his name, he seems almost disinterested, implying that it is not particularly important. And perhaps he is right. After all, for our purposes, he is the Boustan Man-the creator of the best Lebanese food in the city. His chicken and falafel sandwiches are legendary, a source of pilgrimage for tourists and Montrealers alike.

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