NEWS
03/31/2016 09:56 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

St-Hubert sale to Swiss Chalet sparks quick reaction in Quebec

The sale of Quebec's iconic St-Hubert chain is prompting an outpouring of reaction from Quebecers who have been eating the restaurant chain's familiar rotisserie chicken and singing its catchy jingle for 65 years.

"It's a sad day for Quebec," Parti Québécois Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau tweeted on Thursday morning soon after news broke of the chain's $537-million sale to Cara, the owner of the Swiss Chalet chain.

St-Hubert operates 120 restaurants and take-out counters, almost all of them in Quebec. More than 10,000 people are employed by the company.

In addition to buying the restaurants, Cara Operations Ltd. will acquire two food manufacturing plants, two distribution centres and a real estate portfolio.

Politicians and commentators quickly drew parallels with the takeover of another Quebec business institution, Rona, by U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's. 

"After Rona, it's as if Quebec is for sale under Philippe Couillard," the PQ's Bernard Drainville said on Twitter.

Yolande James, CBC Montreal's political analyst and a former provincial Liberal MNA, said the St-Hubert sale isn't good news for the Liberal government.

"Every person, similar to the Rona dispute that occurred about a month ago, every Quebecer relates to St-Hubert," James told CBC's Daybreak.

FrançoisLegault, the leader of the Coalition AvenirQuébec, described the St-Hubert sale as another Quebec jewel lost.

Legault criticized the provincial government, and said Quebec was becoming a branch plant economy.

"A quiet decline of the Quebec economy," Legault tweeted.

'I hope they don't ruin it'

Quebecers immediately took to Twitter to express their worries over the sale, with many wondering if it means the end of St-Hubert's famous gravy sauce.

Others wondered if it meant the Quebec landmark would disappear for good in favour of a Swiss Chalet takeover.

"The chicken dinner monopoly in Canada has now been solidified," one Twitter user wrote.