Restaurateurs Respond to “Pastagate”


MONTREAL — David McMillan, co-owner of Joe Beef, is among a throng of restaurateurs speaking out about what’s now being referred to as “Pastagate.” This comes in response to letters from the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF), the agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the Charter of the French language and promoting French in public places.

The media frenzy began at Buonanotte in Montreal, where the restaurant’s owners were written up by OQLF for using the words “pasta” and “calamari” on their menu without including a French translation. Now, other restaurateurs are saying they have received similar complaints.

McMillan received a visit from an inspector who asked him to remove an English sign that instructed patrons to leave a gate closed. “When we first started getting letters from them and the visits from the inspectors, we were just scared of doing anything,” McMillan told the Montreal Gazette. “I had enough followers on Twitter to make a stink out of it, but we just felt alone.”

A spokesperson for the OQLF told the CBC other languages can be written in menus as long as French remains the dominant language. The agency has since admitted its complaint against Buonanotte was “overzealous,” but is looking into the situation.

Meanwhile, the parody Twitter account @QuebecPasta has been created and a number of pasta puns have been tweeted since the news broke; the account has nearly 1,000 followers.

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