A Montreal restaurant owner says he was left frustrated after a visit from an inspector from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) in the middle of the pandemic.

In a widely-circulated Facebook post, Carmine Anoia, owner of Kitchen 73 in Rivière-des-Prairies, shared a photo of the letter he said he received from the inspector.

It explains that he came to investigate a complaint about a possible violation of the Charter of the French Language.

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We're in the middle of a pandemic, our industry has been annihilated with all these closures.

Carmine Anoia

Anoia told MTL Blog that the inspector's focus was on the name of the restaurant. He also said the inspector threatened fines.

"I asked him if the fines sticks when theres only chairs and tables in the restaurant with no business?" Anoia wrote on Facebook.

"He laughed in my face."

"Worst of all he laughed at me driving off in his car cause he was amused by my frustration."

"The main frustration behind this is, one, for sure, we're in the middle of a pandemic, our industry has been annihilated with all these closures and the government shutting us down, saying that we're the issue," he said to MTL Blog.

But Anoia also claimed that he was previously contacted by the OQLF about the restaurant name seven years ago and thought the issue was resolved.

In a statement, the OQLF said the complaint its inspector was investigating "dealt with indoor signage, not outdoor signage or the company's name."

Moreover, it says it's "fully aware of the context of COVID-19 and makes every effort to minimize the impact on its clients."

It also says "it makes sure to make an appointment before proceeding with an inspection."

A spokesperson said the OQLF attempted to make an appointment with Kitchen 73 but was unable to reach the owner.

When the inspector arrived on October 22, "the owner was quick to complain," the spokesperson said, explaining that "the inspector immediately left the premises without conducting the inspection."

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