You can now officially visit Café Bonjour-Hi. The new controversially named shop is now open on St-Denis Street between Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve.
“I don’t know how people are going to get greeted here,” Café Bonjour-Hi owner Dave Plant told Global News.
“Bonjour-hi? Salut? Hi? I told our staff you don’t have to say ‘bonjour-hi.'”
Dave Plant has been working toward this launch day for months now, but the name only came to be recently.
The incident that inspired the name happened at his other restaurant, when a staff member used the popular bilingual greeting and got an unexpectedly angry response.
“I greeted him in the usual manner. I said, ‘bonjour, hi!'” explained employee Stefen Lamontagne-Commerford.
“He had one foot in the door and he said, ‘Là, madame, ça va arrêter avec le bonjour hi!’ turned around and left. We just kind of stood there stunned.”
Loosely translated, the remarks mean, “Madam, stop with hello, hi.”
When staff were spitballing names for the new spot, she suggested Lamontagne-Commerford.
“We all had a good chuckle, then somewhere along the way it became the actual name,” said Lamontagne-Commerford.
Then came the controversy. CAQ Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette floated the idea of banning the phrase altogether in October, but since then, the government gave up on the idea.
The controversy is gone for now, and Plant said launch day was pretty quiet — even though a handful of customers popped in during the hour Global News was there.
“I saw the poster outside with the bonjour-hi, and curiosity drew me in,” said customer Daniel Itiose.
“It’s been pretty quiet, yeah. We did a soft opening, so no advertising, no nothing and I’m really bad at social media,” said Plant.
Would it have been busier if the bonjour-hi debate was still raging?
“It’s really tough to say. To be honest, I have no idea,” said Plant.
He wants people to come for more than just the linguistic debate jokes.
“We’d like to be known for more than just for the name. We’ve got some really good coffee, good food made in house, tartines, pastries, local Montreal roasters, it’s really good stuff,” he said.
He’s confident people will find his independent café as word spreads. He hopes Premier François Legault and Simon Jolin-Barrette both stop by one day, and promises to greet both with a hearty “bonjour-hi.”