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Schwartzs Montreal Hebrew Deli 2010.jpg
Schwartz's storefront
Schwartz's is located in Montreal
Restaurant information
Established 1928
Food type Jewish kosher style delicatessen
Dress code Casual
Street address 3895 Saint Laurent Boulevard
City Montreal, Quebec
Postal code/ZIP H2W 1X9
Country Canada
Coordinates 45°30′58.5″N 73°34′39.73″W / 45.516250°N 73.5777028°W / 45.516250; -73.5777028Coordinates: 45°30′58.5″N 73°34′39.73″W / 45.516250°N 73.5777028°W / 45.516250; -73.5777028
Website Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen (official site)

Schwartz's, also known as the Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen, is a delicatessen restaurant and take-out, located at 3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, Quebec. It was established in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania.[1] Schwartz's is the most famous remaining Montreal-style smoked meat restaurant.[2] The restaurant also sells smoked meat by mail order. It is kosher style rather than kosher.[3]

The staff of Schwartz's credits the unique flavour of their smoked meat to their mandatory 10-day meat curing time, the high turnover of their meat, and their brick smoke-house covered with over 80 years worth of buildup.[4]


Schwartz's smoked meat

Smoked meat[edit]

Schwartz's signature dish is a smoked meat sandwich served on rye bread with yellow mustard. The meat is served by the fat content; lean, medium, medium-fat or fat. Medium and medium-fat are the most popular.[4][5] According to journalist Bill Brownstein, the classic Schwartz's meal includes a medium-fat sandwich, fries, half-sour pickle, coleslaw, red pepper, and a black cherry soda.[4]

Montreal steak seasoning[edit]

Schwartz's is also credited with creating Montreal steak seasoning or Montreal steak spice when Morris "The Shadow" Sherman, a broilerman working at Schwartz's in the 1940s and '50s, began adding the deli smoked meat pickling spices to his own rib and liver steaks. It was so popular that it was copied by other Montreal delis and steakhouses.[4]


People lined up out the door

The deli has passed through several owners since its foundation:

  1. Reuben Schwartz (1928–1971): Founded the "Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen" in 1928. Reuben Schwartz was described by many as a bad businessman and a supposedly nasty character (boozer, gambler, womanizer) whose family could not stand him.[4][5][6]
  2. Maurice Zbriger (1971–1981): A violinist and composer, Zbriger was eventually made a partner, and eventually, sole owner of Schwartz's, until his death in 1981. He took Reuben Schwartz into his home and created him 'manager for life.' [1] Zbriger made Schwartz's a great success, and with the profits from the business, Zbriger spent many thousands of dollars organizing free concerts of his music. His story was documented in the National Film Board of Canada production The Concert Man.[7][8]
  3. Armande Toupin Chartrand (1981–1999): She began as a professional organizer and caretaker to Maurice Zbriger and through her service to him she was willed the delicatessen.[4][8]
  4. Hy Diamond (1999–2012): The only owner who has had a business background; for many years he was its accountant.[4][8][2]
  5. The Nakis and Angélil-Dion family (2012–present): The current owners of Schwartz's. A partnership consisting of Paul Nakis (involved in the Baton Rouge Restaurant chain among others); his granddaughter Anastasia; René Angélil with his wife Celine Dion; and nephews Eric and Martin Sara (sons of Paul Sara, former owner, along with Angélil, of the Nickles restaurant chain).[9] Dion and Angélil used to favor the Main Deli Steak House over Schwartz's.[10]

Schwartz's is considered a cultural institution in Montreal; when the Charter of the French Language became law in 1977, the deli kept its name as is with the apostrophe, despite the French language not using it. The new law still forced the change from "Hebrew delicatessen" to "charcuterie Hébraïque."[11]

Potential expansion[edit]

Interior view

Several restaurateurs have offered to build Schwartz's as franchise operations in cities across North America, to which the owners have always refused. The idea of franchising Schwartz's just in Montreal has also been rejected due to customer opposition.[4]

In the fall of 2008, Schwartz's opened a take-out location next door.[12]

On March 5, 2012, the Nakis and Angelil-Dion families purchased Schwartz's, reportedly for $10 million. The new owners could franchise Schwartz's; however, they stated they have no intention of doing so.

On February 28, 2013, Schwartz's began using their trademark name on vacuum sealed pouches of smoked meat sold at IGA supermarkets in Quebec.[13] This mass-produced (factory made) smoked meat product has since become available in other supermarkets across Canada.

In media[edit]

In 2006, Montreal Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein wrote the book Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen: The Story, published by Véhicule Press.[14] Schwartz's has also been the subject of numerous articles in Canadian and international publications. It has also been the inspiration for a theatre production about the deli: Schwartz's: The Musical.[15] The restaurant has been the subject of two documentary films: The Concert Man by Tony Ianzelo[16] and Chez Schwartz by Garry Beitel.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jamie O'Meara (2006-06-29). "Babylon, P.Q.: The meat of the matter". Hour Community. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  2. ^ Schwartz's world famous smoked meat deli - now that's marketing
  3. ^ "Menschlich Montreal". North American Travel Journalists Association. 2005-06-28. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Browstein, Bill (2006), Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen: The Story, Vehicule Press, ISBN 978-1-55065-212-3 
  5. ^ a b Sax, David (2010-10-01), Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, Mariner Books, ISBN 0-547-38644-3 
  6. ^ Joe O'Connor (2012-05-07). "Schwartz's for sale: Iconic Montreal deli could be sold to group that includes Celine Dion and husband Rene Angelil". National Post. Retrieved 2013-01-19. 
  7. ^ Ianzelo, Tony. "The Concert Man". Documentary film. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Nestruck, J. Kelly (2006-09-28). "May the Schwartz be with you". National Post. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  9. ^ "It's official... Schwartz's Deli sold to Montreal business families". CNW Group. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  10. ^ WYATT, NELSON (March 11, 2012), "Celine Dion: Montreal's Schwartz's will go on", The Chronicle Herald 
  11. ^ Kurlansky, Mark. Salt: A World History. Penguin Books. p. 404. ISBN 0 14 200161 9. 
  12. ^ "Schwartz's famed deli serves up takeout counter". CBC News. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  13. ^ "Schwartz's smoked meat now sold in supermarkets". CTV Montreal News. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  14. ^ "Search Results: Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen: The Story". Véhicule Press. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  15. ^ Latimer, Joanne (November 4, 2010), "Phantom of the Deli? Smoke-lahoma?:A newspaper column about Schwartz's deli in Montreal has inspired a musical", Macleans 
  16. ^ "The Concern Man". Documentary film. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Official site of the "Chez Schwartz" movie

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]