It's got no décor, it's tiny, it's crowded, the wait staff is crabby and you'll probably be elbow-to-elbow with a hungry stranger. But that's considered all part of the charm at Schwartz Chacuterie and all is forgiven anyway, when you take your first bite of that smoked meat sandwich.
Waiting in line for a smoked meat sandwich — Photo courtesy of Photo by Katy Watts Nobody does smoked meat like this iconic eatery. It's one of Montréal's claims to fame, and what other restaurant has inspired a musical? Schwartz's: The Musical by Bowser and Blue had a succcessful debut at the Centaur Theatre in 2011. That's why the city is aghast when the news broke that was being sold to none other than René Angélil, husband and manager of superstar Céline Dion. Angélil's last foray into restaurants was the Nickels Restaurant chain, serving up the usual American fare menu accompanied by all inclusive Dion soundtrack.
It's rumoured that current owner Hy Diamond sold the old-fashioned eatery for $10 million dollars – a rumour neither confirmed or denied. Is the famed deli in danger? The new owners have been making noises about the potential for a chain of Schwartz across the city and into other North American cities.
Montrealers knows there's only one Schwartz’s and if you duplicate it, then it's not unique anymore. It's a big enough tourist draw that those in the business are expressing concern that 'if you can get Schwartz's in your hometown, why come to Montréal for a smoked-meat sandwich?' Everyone is watching closely . . . and in the meantime the staff keep making those fantastic sandwiches.