03/31/2014 06:42 EDT | Updated 05/31/2014 05:59 EDT

Iconic Schwartz's smoked meat sandwich to cost $1 more with beef prices up

MONTREAL - Lovers of smoked meat will have to fork over a little more cash the next time they visit the famous Schwartz's deli in Montreal.

The restaurant blames rising beef prices for its decision to make its smoked meat sandwich a bit more expensive.

Frank Silva, Schwartz's general manager, said the the price of the beef he buys from Alberta has increased by about 50 per cent since last November.

The meat is trimmed by a local butcher, with the brisket then marinated and smoked in house.

At the moment, a regular smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's costs $6.65. It will go up by about $1 in April.

"We try to keep prices down, but as of April we're definitely going to have to raise our prices," Silva said in an interview, quickly adding he won't cut back on the quantity or quality of the meat served.

"I think a lot of customers will be upset, but they'll see that right across the board it will be higher — groceries will be higher, everything is going to be higher."

Across the street, at the rival Main Deli Steak House, a smoked meat sandwich currently costs $7.05.

A worker there said he'd also noticed beef prices had risen, though he added the restaurant had no immediate plans to raise its prices.

The high price of beef in North America can be partly attributed to depleted cattle herds following the drought south of the border, in California, Texas and the Great Plains.

At the beginning of March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the price for a pound of fresh beef reached its highest level in at least 27 years.

Silva said the last time the restaurant raised its price was "about two years ago, and by 10 cents."

"We've never done anything like this before," he said.

Patrons at Schwartz's didn't appear fazed by the prospect of paying an extra loonie.

No one among a long line of people waiting to get into the historic restaurant, which is now owned by a consortium that includes singer Celine Dion and her husband, said an additional $1 would be a problem.

"If I can stand outside in the freezing cold for half an hour just to get in here, I don't care, I'll pay it," Montrealer Angela Beauregard said after polishing off a sandwich.

"It's a great experience, great place, just the atmosphere, and the sandwiches are to die for. So yeah, I would pay it."

- with files from The Associated Press