Italian coffee shop in Montreal in trouble with language watchdog

Caffè in Gamba in Montreal’s Mile End is yet another business battling the Office québécois de la langue française.

The most recent debate over proper signage stems from the coffee shop’s use of the word “Caffè” — which, said owner Jean-François Leduc, is Italian for espresso and not the filter coffee usually associated with the term “café.”

It’s important to him that his sign reflect the specific type of beverage the coffee shop serves.

“We serve caffè with two Fs here, not café with one F,” he said.

This isn’t Leduc’s first tangle with the OQLF.

His ordeal began in 2010, when Leduc said he received two fines for about $1,860 each for signage infractions.

He said he ended up going to criminal court to contest those charges, but that the OQLF and its lawyer didn’t show up.

He also said he complied with the OQLF’s requests to remove all traces of Italian and English from his storefront window, and that his 17-foot-wide awning has a French descriptor explaining what the coffee shop’s business is.

But now, the two-by-two-foot sign above the storefront window displaying the business’s name is the subject of the OQLF’s ire.

“That’s my logo, my business name, my trademark,” Leduc said.

Still, Leduc is hoping he and the OQLF can come to some kind of agreement that will allow him to retain the word “caffè.”

“I’m a French-Canadian. I love the French language and I’m ready to comply to almost everything they ask me to do,” Leduc said.

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