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. Schwartz's is the most famous remaining Montreal-style smoked meat restaurant. The restaurant also sells smoked meat by mail order. It is kosher style rather than kosher.
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.
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. 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.
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.
The deli has passed through several owners since its foundation:
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."
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.
In the fall of 2008, Schwartz's opened a take-out location next door.
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. This mass-produced (factory made) smoked meat product has since become available in other supermarkets across Canada.
In 2006, Montreal Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein wrote the book Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen: The Story, published by Véhicule Press. 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. The restaurant has been the subject of two documentary films: The Concert Man by Tony Ianzelo and Chez Schwartz by Garry Beitel.