Jewish Delicatessen Warned by Quebec’s Language Office

A Montreal Jewish restaurant has become the latest target of Quebec’s official language watchdog.

Schwartz’s Hebrew Delicatessen, founded in 1931, is best known for its smoked meat, a type of pastrami that is smoked, aged and served hot and juicy on rye bread with mustard.

The eatery is so popular that last April Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, an avowed separatist, had his picture taken by the media while eating a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich.

Now the landmark eatery has been cited for violating Quebec’s law governing language use.

The restaurant recently received a letter from the Quebec government’s French Language Office asking it to reduce the size of the English letters on the bilingual signs posted inside the restaurant.

Under the law, English is permitted on public signs, but only if the lettering is one-third the size of the French letters.

Schwartz’s manager, Johnny Haim, was planning to change the signs immediately, even though it would cost more than $1,000 to do so.

But after receiving hundreds of phone calls and visits from concerned customers who were opposed to the move, Haim may have changed his mind.

Haim said in an interview he was under orders of the owners of the restaurant to “keep my mouth shut” and would only say “I don’t know” when asked if he planned on changing the signs.

Meanwhile, other shopkeepers on the popular St. Lawrence Street were planning to help Haim raise funds should he choose to contest the language office’s warning in the courts.

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