Pâtisserie Italia is the latest story — of many, it seems — of restaurants that have been visited by Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) inspectors. The Montreal bakery is located in St-Leonard and has been bringing authentic, Italian flavours and creations to Montrealers for 15 years.
Owned by Jackie Lancia, it's a family-run business, with her daughter, a Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef, making all of the pastries. And from the sounds of it, the staff and the team are basically part of the family.
As with many businesses, the code red protocols and restrictions have left Pâtisserie Italia in hard times.*
The bakery was, according to the owner, visited by the OQLF for using words like "espresso."
Jackie told MTL Blog that despite following signage guidelines, such as having French as the main language, the OQLF apparently found an issue with the words like "espresso."*
The OQLF shared with MTL Blog a complaint was made against the bakery, so they "went to verify the complaint as it should be verified. Neither the inspector nor the OQLF has given an opinion on the situation."*
Jackie says that when she asked the OQLF inspector what the problem was with using the word "espresso," she thought maybe it had something to do with the spelling.
The OQLF told MTL Blog that such was a false accusation, telling us that "espresso" is, in fact, in its permitted terminology list.*
She claims the representative told her that none of her questions would be answered in the visit and that she would receive a letter with all of the changes she would be required to make or be forced to pay fines.*
Many cafés around Montreal use the word "espresso," and many even have them in their name.
Pâtisserie Italia finds the entire experience frustrating.
"I've paid my taxes, paid my dues, I follow the law. This is really just disappointing."
After 15 years in business, Jackie says this is the first time that the OQLF has come after the bakery.
"I find it weird that all of a sudden there's all of these complaints."
But for Jackie, one of her main concerns is her employees.
"You don't want your employees to worry, too, that you can't keep them employed, especially during the pandemic. I'll make sure they know that they won't be fired. Because that's the respect that they deserve."
"When I'm barely making ends meet, why would you come after me?"
The support for the bakery has been incredible, says Jackie
Since the visit, people have been visiting Pâtisserie Italia to show their support.
Jackie told MTL Blog that some people have been coming all the way from the other side of the island just to visit and try some of the homemade Italian goods.
And when you see the bakery's Facebook page, it's pouring with love and support from old and new fans, praising the pizza, the desserts, but more importantly the service.
She says she will do whatever she can to stay open.
"If I need to change things I will."
"You need funds to go after the OQLF. Funds that I just don't have."
* This article has been updated.