Controversy over French service: successful reopening at Bab Sang restaurant

With a menu translated into French and an employee with the same last name as the mayor of Quebec, the Korean restaurant Bab Sang reopened its doors on Wednesday evening, to the delight of its many customers.

• Read also: Marchand does a mini mea culpa

• Read also: The restaurateur says he is the victim of intimidation

“I found four hours in my schedule and I’m happy to help them,” said Béatrice Marchand, a student at the Barreau du Québec who is not related to Bruno Marchand.


A customer came to pick up a take-out meal on Wednesday evening.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

A customer came to pick up a take-out meal on Wednesday evening.

The young woman has not been idle on Wednesday through the reception of customers, take-out orders, telephone reservations and invoicing to be completed.

At the end of the line, the calls were a little longer because of the messages of encouragement.

Without being totally crowded, the dining room was very busy. Already, the smiling staff has learned a few customary formulas such as “bon appetit”.

The newspaper was able to taste an excellent BBQ Bul-go-gi, slices of grilled and marinated Korean beef.


Stéphanie Salmaan, Marc Boivin and their 21-month-old boy feasted on Korean dishes from Bab Sang on Wednesday evening to encourage the restaurateur from Sillery.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

Stéphanie Salmaan, Marc Boivin and their 21-month-old boy feasted on Korean dishes from Bab Sang on Wednesday evening to encourage the restaurateur from Sillery.

A pride to develop

Caught in a politico-linguistic saga, the restaurant on Avenue Maguire, in Sillery, has been making headlines since October 12 because it was almost impossible to obtain service in French there.

Without presenting a formal apology, Bruno Marchand admitted that he should have shown more “benevolence” in this file.

The mayor had previously asserted that the labor shortage should not be a “pretext” for not serving customers in French. Mr. Marchand agreed that he “certainly” could have expressed himself differently.

“There is indeed a lack of benevolence towards our traders, who take the initiative to come and settle. Already, opening a business for a French-speaking Quebecer takes a lot of effort. So someone who decides to uproot themselves, it takes a little community benevolence, ”explained Stéphanie Salmaan, first client of the evening with her spouse and their 21-month-old son.

“It was a bit ill-advised on the part of the mayor,” added Marc Boivin, a big fan of Korean food.

“It surprised me, since he worked at Centraide. But he apologized and that’s fine,” said another customer, who requested anonymity.

Positive conclusion

The restaurateur did not want to comment on its reopening. Those around him explain that he wants to protect his children “who do not know racism”.

The latter will now be able to count on temporary employees and volunteer servers to provide service in French.

Business Development Corporation (SDC) chief executive Maguire said he was happy to see that in the end, people are coming together in solidarity behind the owner.


Bruno Salvail, Managing Director of the Maguire Business Development Company (SDC).

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

Bruno Salvail, Managing Director of the Maguire Business Development Company (SDC).

“I am very proud of the reaction of people in the neighborhood. Citizens, politicians and traders are ready to help him. They understand the situation well and they want to correct it to welcome it,” commented Bruno Salvail.

WHAT THEY SAID

“We are in a situation of adaptation and not of a negation of the French fact. In six months to a year, he will be able to hold a conversation in French.”

– Bruno Salvail, Managing Director of SDC Maguire

“You have to develop pride in seeing them learn French instead of being angry like that.”

– Stephanie Salmaan, customer

“This whole story made me want to help them. I couldn’t not do it.”

– Béatrice Marchand, employee

“I only wish well to the entrepreneurs around me. In Montreal, no one takes offense to speaking in English. They are super nice and I wish them the best.”

– Vanessa Roberge, co-owner of the Tapas & Liège restaurant, neighbor on Avenue Maguire

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