How Celine Dion helped save Montreal’s most iconic Jewish deli

The vocal powerhouse, a Catholic, might seem like a strange match for a Jewish deli.

December 30, 2016 08:12
1 minute read.
Celine Dion

Celine Dion. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Near, far — wherever you are — Schwartz’s is known for being one of Montreal’s oldest and most storied Jewish delis. Its famed smoked meat — a subtly different cousin of pastrami — has attracted scores of customers since it opened in 1928.

Still, for even the most popular delis, the road can be tough and uncertain. The Carnegie Deli, a New York institution since 1937, is set to close on Dec. 31. Los Angeles staples Billy’s and Solley’s both closed last year.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

And as Alina Simone notes at Public Radio International, Schwartz’s ran into some ownership trouble of its own four years ago. That’s when the late Montreal restaurateur Paul Nakis helped convince singer Celine Dion, an iconic Quebec native, and her husband, Rene Angelil, to invest in the deli and become part owners.

“It’s the most unique restaurant in the world and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Angelil said at the time. (He died in January.)

The vocal powerhouse, a Catholic, might seem like a strange match for a Jewish deli, but she and her husband had already invested in the Nickels restaurants, which has become Quebec’s largest smoked meat chain.

Frank Silva, the current general manager at Schwartz’s, told Simone that his deli’s Jewish clientele was originally a little skeptical of its non-Jewish ownership. But nothing has changed over the years — from the custom of smoking meat for 10 days to baking the bread daily — so the customers are still happy, he said.

“We run the show, and as long as the line is around the block, [the owners] let us do our jobs,” Silva said.

Dion made a surprise appearance at the deli in August, where she signed autographs and treated diners to a free lunch. But no word on whether or not she broke into a ballad or two.

Related Content

Jerusalem Post News
August 5, 2018
This week in 60 seconds: Ahed Tamimi released from prison