Italian 'caffe' goes decaf after OQLF complaint
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:31AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:28PM EST
An Italian restaurant in Quebec City is the latest company to run into trouble with the provincial enforcement arm of the Charter of the French Language.
Caffe Conti was ordered to change its name because the owners spelled café in Italian instead of French.
Mathieu Pettigrew, the co-owner of the restaurant, said the first notice from the OQLF arrived 18 months ago, with the the agency informing Pettigrew that spelling 'caffe' with two letter f's was one too many.
The restaurant resisted at first and didn't make any changes because, as Pettigrew said, he thought the demand was ridiculous.
"We were surprised because for all the customers and everyone here it's not a big problem," said Pettigrew.
Then the language watchdog sent the restaurant another notice in November 2012 threatening fines and legal action. That's when Caffe Conti decided to comply.
The Charter of the French Language requires French to be the dominant language on all signs, menus, and other locations in stores in the province, so Pettigrew and his co-owner decided to rename the restaurant Conti, removing the word 'caffe.'
They have replaced menus, napkins and everything that was inscribed with the old name.
"It's ridiculous because what does it change in the life of everyone to have Conti Caffe spelled with one 'f' or two 'f's?" Pettigrew said.
Conti is now selling its law-violating wine glasses and giving the money to charity.
So far the OQLF has refused to comment on this matter to CTV Montreal.
OQLF drops case against Buonanotte
Meanwhile the language agency has dropped a case against Buonanotte restaurant.
That restaurant caused a stir when owner Massimo Lecas went public with a notice that the OQLF pointing out that 'pasta' and many other Italian words on the restaurant's menus were not acceptable under the Charter.
After an international outcry, language minister Diane DeCourcy stepped in and determined that the bureaucrat who was enforcing the letter of the law had been "overzealous".
She then ordered the OQLF to create a 'foreign character' exemption for restaurants.
"Never did I think that social media and media would have exploded this story to where it went to 14 countries, 350 articles written, and in what 6 days?" said Lecas.
On Monday the OQLF sent a letter to Buonanotte saying the entire case had been closed.
Media demonizing Bill 101: Language hardliner
These recent language controversies are being used by some to demonize Bill 101, said Mario Beaulieu of French-language rights group Mouvement Quebec Francais.
"We see it a lot in Anglophone media and also some French media -- trying to discredit Bill 101 and present it as a xenophobic law," he said.