Celine Dion, husband among new owners of famous Montreal restaurant

MONTREAL – Singer Celine Dion is part of a consortium that has purchased a landmark Montreal restaurant, famous partly for its food and partly for its generations-old decor.

The Quebec diva and her husband, Rene Angelil, have teamed up with other investors to buy Schwartz’s, a downtown deli.

The establishment is famous amongst Montrealers, and tourists, to a certain extent because of its smoked-meat sandwiches but also because of its appeal as a larger-than-average time capsule.

Founded in 1928, the St. Lawrence Boulevard shop regularly draws long lineups of tourists eager to grab a seat in a place that looks untouched by the passing decades.

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In a news release Monday announcing the transaction, Angelil shared his memory of first going to Schwartz’s as a young musician in 1961 with his friend and manager, Ben Kaye.

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“I have so many great memories of being there with the guys, and with Celine and our families throughout the years. It’s the most unique restaurant in the world and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Angelil said.

This won’t be the first smoked-meat venture for Dion and Angelil. They have also been partners in Nickels, a chain of retro 1950s diners that sells mostly fast foods including the famous Montreal sandwiches.

Without referring to his previous chain venture, Angelil sought to assuage the concerns of any purists that he’ll create a similar business model out of Schwartz’s, a place immortalized in the literature of Mordecai Richler.

Angelil promised not to allow franchises, and to keep the authenticity of the establishment.

“Of course, we’ll make a few improvements as necessary, but we’re not interested in diluting the brand by franchising, or making the deli something that it isn’t,” he said.

“It’s truly one-of-a-kind, and we intend to keep it this way.”

The group of partners includes Angelil’s nephews and the Nakis family, longtime Montreal restauranteurs

The sale price was not disclosed.

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