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Dunn’s Famous Delicatessen – Then and Now Montreal

By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca

Dunn’s Famous Delicatessen – Dunn’s Famous Deli and Steakhouse was founded in Montreal, by Myer Dunn, who emigrated with his family to Canada in 1911. As a young boy he noticed the eating habits of the hourly-paid factory workers of the garment industry in his neighbourhood and saw the need for a restaurant serving quality food 24 hours a day. In 1927 Myer Dunn opened his first sandwich shop on Papineau Street near Mount Royal, smoking meat in the way his parents had learned, and slicing it thin to provide the best possible taste to his customers. In 1948 he opened a second restaurant on Mount Royal and Park Avenue, and called it “Dunn’s Famous Delicatessen”.


The Gazette ad, April 14, 1984

In 1955, to serve more people in the downtown area Meyer opened his famous two-story restaurant on Saint Catherine Street West. The front windows were laden top to bottom with bagels, cheese cakes, stacks of jars full of hot banana peppers, and smoked meat. The deli was open 24 hours a day, unusual for restaurant in the downtown core. People came in at all hours of the day and night to enjoy the deli’s specialties.


Dunn’s Famous Steakhouse & Deli – 1920 (Photo: Al Bohns)

In the mid 1980s, Dunn’s Famous was targeted by Bill 101, the French language charter, introduced by Camille Laurin, the Minister of Cultural Development in the Province of Quebec, for having the English word, “Smoked Meat” on its sign out front. Dunn’s also fought a ruling to change the name of “Smoked Meat” to “Boeuf Mariné” in order to conform to the language law. They won the ruling by proving that if they didn’t advertise “Smoked Meat” they would confuse and anger customers. Due to the work of Myer Dunn, under the new ruling, enacted in 1987, Smoked Meat became a word in both official languages of Canada.


Meyer Dunn

The Saint Catherine Street deli closed in 1998, but a new restaurant was opened in 2000 by Dunn’s grandson Elliott Kligman on 1249 Metcalfe Street, close to the old location. Due to its unique recipe and high quality standards, Dunn’s Famous is still a favourite among Montreal residents and visitors.


900 St. Catherine W. – 2016

Today, beside its famous “old-fashioned smoked meat”, Dunn’s offers a variety of foods, including poutines, char-grilled burgers, soups, salads, wraps, desserts, full breakfast, and a host of other items, all made from the finest ingredients available.

To see the article in the Montreal Times 22.72 June 3, 2017 edition please click on the above image
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