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Montreal Cafe Bonjour-Hi
  • With recent discussions around the CAQ's desire to ban bonjour-hi, a new cafe is receiving some serious backlash online.
  • Café Bonjour-Hi, which isn't set to open until next month, is receiving 1-star ratings from Francophones who do not see the humour in the name of the café.
  • The owner has spoken out, hoping to express the good-natured humour behind the name... with little avail.

A cafe on Saint-Denis is getting backlash from Francophones in Montreal already, and it hasn't even opened its doors yet, particularly thanks to the recent discussion of banning "bonjour-hi."

The backlash is centred around the name, Café Bonjour/Hi, which has also been at the centre of countless language debates in the province of Quebec.

In fact, the CAQ Minister for the French Language even indicated last week that the CAQ would consider re-opening the language debate to consider strengthening Bill 101.

According to these recent developments, the Parti Québecois wants the CAQ to extend Bill 101 to businesses of 25-49 employees, which could implicate establishments that hinge on part-time immigrant or student staff that perhaps have not learned French yet.

And while the phrase "bonjour/hi" has not yet been banned, it has been clear that its use in the public sphere has displeased many Francophones for some time.

Enter Café Bonjour/Hi. 

In an interview with the Canadian Press, owner Dave Plant of Bouffe David Plant Food decided to go with the name after it was suggested to him by an employee. While acknowledging its unavoidable controversy, Plant also highlights that the phrase is bilingual, as is the Quartier Latin where the cafe will reside. 

But bilingual or not, it is clear that some francophones in Montreal are already not happy about the cafe's name.

If you go to the cafe's Google Review page you'll quickly see that online reviewers have started to give the establishment 1-star ratings despite having never been, considering the cafe has yet to open its doors to the public.

[rebelmouse-image 26889168 alt="Bonjour-Hi Cafe Montreal" photo_credit="Google Reviews" expand=1 original_size="540x960"] Google Reviews

The reviews above indicate that some Francophones find the name "extremely condescending," or a middle finger to Francophones. The middle review suggests the owner change the name or face self-sabotage.

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The owner did take time to respond to several of the reviews, assuring those of the Francophone community that the name was chosen in jest and good-nature, with no intention of mocking the French language or those who speak it.

[rebelmouse-image 26889169 alt="Bonjour-Hi Cafe Montreal" photo_credit="Google Reviews" expand=1 original_size="540x960"] Google Reviews

In his response, Plante continues:

"We take very seriously that each of our employees is fit to serve in French. Our hint of irony is simply an invitation not to take it all too seriously. We are not open yet but we hope that when the time comes, you will pass judgment on the quality of our products and our service and will not stop at a bad impression. :D"

[rebelmouse-image 26889170 alt="Bonjour-Hi Cafe Montreal" photo_credit="Google Reviews" expand=1 original_size="540x960"] Google Reviews

The reviews have since been hidden from the Google Business page, as even with Plant's response, some Francophones were still not pleased.

Cafe Bonjour-Hi is set to open on Saint-Denis between Ontario and Sherbrooke next month and in conversation with CBC, Plant has indicated they're doing everything to meet the standards of the law when it comes to ensuring the prominence of the French language amongst his staff.

He's also made it clear he's not afraid of a political discussion when it comes to Quebec's dual languages, but that they aren't trying to "change the political landscape" in any way.

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