10 facts about Montreal's iconic Schwartz's, Canada's oldest deli

Nov 3 2021, 7:52 pm

When you think of food in Montreal, there is one name that stands out at the top of the list and that’s Schwartz’s, plain and simple — and once you’ve had a bite, you’ll understand why.

The one-of-a-kind smoked meat joint and Hebrew delicatessen has seen its fair share of history in its 93 years, attracting customers from all around the globe in the process.

Daily Hive Montreal recently spoke with Frank Silva, whose been the general manager at Schwartz’s for over 20 years, to get an inside scoop into how the establishment runs.

Here are a few things you may not have known about the Montreal landmark.

Celine Dion is a co-owner

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

In March 2012, Nakis and Angelil-Dion families purchased Schwartz’s. Although they had the power to franchise the establishment they opted not to.

Their meat is cured for 10 days before serving

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

Good flavour takes time. At Schwartz’s, raw brisket is marinated upstairs then dry-cured with secret blend spices. It is only ready to serve after a 10-day ageing process.

It’s the oldest deli in Canada

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

Many have come and gone over the years but Schwartz’s is the only deli open before 1930 that’s still standing in all of Canada — and thriving.

One of the few places that still produce their smoked meat in-house

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

A lot of delis and restaurants in Montreal have smoked meat but the vast majority do not make their own. This stuff is the real deal.

Same recipe since day one

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

The secret marinade recipe for smoked meat has been in use for nearly 100 years. And as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A true family business

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

Aside from the Schwartz family, Silva has worked alongside his own father, two of his uncles and three of his children over the years.

They serve over 1,000 sandwiches a day

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

According to Silva, the modestly sized deli counter serves over 1,000 sandwiches a day. “There are often two lineups around the corner of St. Laurent and Napoleon,” he says. “One for takeout and one for dining in.”

The original price of a meal was $1.09

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

Back in the day, you could get a smoked-meat sandwich, fries, and a Coke for a loonie and a dime. Schwartz’s brought back the price for one day only in 2018 for their 90th anniversary.

They go through approximately 8,000 kg of meat a week

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Schwartz’s (@schwartzsofficial)

While it seems like an unbelievable amount, Silva confirmed that they order approximately 8,000 kg of meat every week.

Schwartz’s is behind Montreal steak spice

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Greg (@g_bevs_keto)

A broilerman working at Schwartz’s in the 1940s began adding the smoke pickling spice blend to his own rib and liver steaks. It was so popular that it was eventually copied by other delis and steakhouses in town.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

+ Dished
+ Curated
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT