Abdul (Hajjy) Sherafghanzadah - Master Tailor & Cleaners
It is no surprise that Abdul, or Hajjy as everyone calls him, showed up at the interview for this biography in a perfectly tailored suit. He has been tailoring fine clothing since he was a young boy in Afghanistan.
Following his apprenticeship with other tailors, Hajjy opened Master Tailor & Cleaners, located in the large plaza at Markham Road and Sheppard, in 2003.
He is meticulous in his workmanship and difficult projects are often referred to him because he has such an extensive background in the craft of tailoring. He can be found hard at work in his store six days a week. He listens carefully to his customers and gives them excellent service. It is for this reason that many of them are repeat customers.
“Small details matter” says Hajjy. “I like the Sheppard East Village because it is so ethnically diverse - I have customers from all over the world.”
Hajjy can custom-make fine clothing from the many fabrics he has on hand. “When I see a guy walking down the street I know what small adjustments I can make to his suit to make it fit perfectly” he says. He loves the spring season when all the graduating students come to see him for their prom dresses and suits. He wants everything to be perfect for their special day.
He considers his shop a family business - with his wife assisting in the shop and his 3 grown sons helping out when they are not busy studying.
Master Tailor & Cleaners also sells dress clothing, accessories, and offers custom alterations and expert dry cleaning.
“I have a membership card available for my customers. When they join for a year, they get 10% off any of our services. It is my way of thanking them for their loyalty.”
When he is not at his shop, Hajjy likes to dine in the area with his family, often ordering fresh kebabs and rice. He also enjoys watching basketball on T.V. and is a Toronto Raptors’ fan.
This is ‘share’ in Hajjy’s language: درميان گزاشتن
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Poon - BTL Sports Ltd.
BTL Sports is located in Midtown Plaza, at the corner of Midland and Sheppard. Alan has spent the past 10 years coaching people to improve their swimming and tennis abilities. He prefers a swimsuit to a whistle, unlike some coaches. He thinks that getting into the pool is the best way to demonstrate correct form.
He is a member of the Coaches Association of Ontario, the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Sports Tutors’ Institute. Alan has taught people of all ages and walks of life how to swim, or how to swim better. He started out teaching young people, but then their parents became interested in his coaching, as well. Alan says, “I am pretty confident I can teach anyone, at any age, how to swim in about 10 lessons. It’s never too late to learn a new skill.”
“I have taught many 80-year-olds to swim” says Alan with a smile, “although they like to learn backstroke, not the dolphin kick.”
Alan moved here from Hong Kong 20 years ago, and speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin, which is helpful in the Sheppard East Village neighbourhood.
Alan has one son who has just graduated from university - and it is no surprise that he is both a great swimmer and tennis player.
And if you think Alan just helps others, you should see him do Kung Fu in his living room every morning. His father was a Kung Fu master back in Hong Kong, and he enjoys the daily discipline, using a houseplant for a partner.
You can contact Alan at email@example.com.
Cody Bott - StorageMart
Cody manages the large StorageMart located in Sheppard East Village. He can help you with any of your storage needs – both big and small. The facility boasts a large outdoor area for automobiles, trucks, and RVs, using a keypad access gate. The inside units are climate- controlled and come in a wide variety of sizes.
Cody says that a lot of people store their cars at his location because StorageMart provides a high level of security and a well-lit property. “We have video cameras recording the property 24 hours a day”.
StorageMart can also streamline your moving experience - with dollies and handcarts to help do the heavy lifting and quality cardboard boxes, durable locks, and standard packing tape for sale. They have a great website where you can get information regarding sizes and prices.
Cody is a big fan of the Sheppard East Village area. He likes that his store is accessible to people without cars and easily reachable by TTC. “This area stands for what Toronto is” says Cody, “everything you need is here”.
The area has allowed him to become immersed in cultures and food from around the world. He recently attended a Hindu wedding and another wedding at a Mosque that opened his eyes to new cultural experiences.
Cody is often seen wearing his StorageMart jacket out for lunch and he gets stopped and asked questions about his facility on a daily basis.
In his off hours, Cody likes to play hockey and baseball with his friends and fire up the BBQ to make dinner.
StorageMart is a supportive member of the BIA and likes to sponsor local community events and charities during the year.
Cody can be reached at 416-291-5353.
Debbi Andronek - Hogan Chevrolet Buick GMC.
Debbi is a loyal and dedicated employee who has worked for Drew Foss, Hogan’s owner, for 9 years. Prior to that, she worked for Drew’s father for 17 years. In fact, she moved her family to the area so she could take the job at Hogan Chevrolet Buick GMC, here in Sheppard East Village.
Debbi has tremendous respect for Drew Foss and the way he runs his business. In addition to their extensive line of Chevrolet, Buick and GMC cars and trucks, Hogan also boasts a large commercial truck service centre that specializes in repairing light and medium duty trucks, trailers and buses.
Debbi is a highly regarded service consultant who considers herself the liaison between the customers and the mechanics. Debbi learned about cars at a very early age from her father and is one of the few females in this role. She helps ensure the work is done right and on schedule - and she really knows her stuff.
“Hogan’s is a ‘small-town’ style dealership in a big city” she says. “It is a warm place to work, we all help each other out, and everyone gets along really well.”
Debbi enjoys the multicultural aspect of her job, “I have customers at my desk all day long, probably because I remember everyone’s name, everyone’s stories, and people trust my experience and expertise” she says smiling.
When not working long hours at Hogan’s, she enjoys cooking Greek food for her family, and traveling with her husband and teenage daughter. “I love to travel with my daughter and we have been on many Caribbean cruises - this year we are going somewhere last minute, which should be fun” Debbi says.
So if you are looking for a great place to get your car serviced, drop in and see Debbi. Chances are she’ll remember your name.
Contact Debbi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Kelly Tsioros - McCowan-Sheppard Chiropractic
Dr. Kelly Tsioros and Dr. David Kirsh run McCowan-Sheppard Chiropractic here in Sheppard East Village. They have combined experience - providing state-of-the-art chiropractic care - spanning over 50 years. Kelly and David work on alternating days to give their patients friendly and professional service six days a week. They very much complement each other in their styles of practice.
They both share a caring attitude toward helping improve the quality of life of their patients. “Chiropractic care has become more accepted over the past several years - with an increasing number of family physicians referring patients to our clinic. This provides us the opportunity to help our patients to get well” says Kelly.
Their family practice specializes in sports injuries, and as David likes to say, “I don’t cure people; I help people cure themselves.”
“Our practice has really changed as a result of the technology revolution. It used to be primarily focused on issues related to the lower back. But now it’s upper back, right shoulder, and wrist and thumb problems - resulting from overuse of computers and other electronics. This was relatively infrequent 20 years ago” David says.
Kelly has seen hundreds of patients improve their well-being in her practice. “After two or three visits, I often see improvements. Regular chiropractic care allows you to have a properly functioning nervous system that helps you stay healthy” says Kelly.
What David and Kelly like best about the Sheppard East Village area is the amazing food their patients bring in for them to sample. “We get to experience all kinds of baked goods and interesting foods from other cultures. These tasty treats are especially delicious around the holiday season.”
In her spare time, Kelly enjoys a variety of fitness routines involving running, swimming, yoga and Pilates.
Kelly and David can be reached at 416-292-4100.
Keneisha Goulbourne - Canadian College of Business, Science & Technology
It doesn’t take long to figure out that Keneisha is a people person. Her warm personality comes through as soon as you meet her. “The College helps people who need another chance in life, and it’s extremely rewarding” she says.
The College office, located on Sheppard Avenue between Markham and McCowan, is one of three in the GTA that give adult students a second chance at a new career. “We appeal to people getting back into the workforce. We give assistance to many people who don’t have a secondary education” she says.
One service that helps her students is the Second Career program - a government initiative available to workers that have been laid-off after working for at least one year in Canada. The program offers financial assistance to cover the cost of courses, training and education.
”My colleagues and I enjoy seeing the success of the students” she says, “we turn negativity into positivity and open their eyes to new possibilities, every day of the week.”
Keneisha’s dedicated spirit continues outside of office hours, as well. If she sees the same person selling her a coffee every morning for six months, she will leave the person a College card and suggest a meeting at the office, to discuss career opportunities.
Keneisha was born in Jamaica and loves the Sheppard East Village area because of its ethnic diversity. “I love the fellowship here. I was asked to go to a cricket match the other day by a complete stranger, and I went. It’s a multicultural hub. I love the unity” says Keneisha.
In her spare time she enjoys tennis, golf, socializing and reading anything new from writer James Patterson.
If you are looking for a new career, Canadian College of Business, Science & Technology would love to help you find it.
The College can be reached at email@example.com.
Mike Bowers - Premier Wheels Direct
Mike has been with Premier Wheels Direct for over 2 years - and knows a thing or two about wheels; having been in the auto business for over 40 years. Premier carries thousands of different tires and rims for cars and trucks and offers winter/summer tire storage. “We have an extensive selection” says Mike. In fact, Premier showcases more than 500 rims in-stock and offers a full selection of name brand tires to choose from.
Mike has seen all sorts of interesting tire situations at the shop. The one that sticks out the most is the customer who came in with a wrench that punctured right through the tire. “We like to get everyone back on the road with a safe set of tires at a fair price.”
Mike likes the diversity of food and shopping he can enjoy in the neighbourhood. “I like the spicy Jamaican jerk pork at Sunrise Jamaican Restaurant - 95% of the guys in the shop are from the Caribbean and have introduced me to some great new lunch options.”
Mike has done some wild and crazy stuff in his past - including 100 jumps from an airplane. “I had all safe landings - except for number 95 when I landed hard in a wheat field and got a bit roughed up. Needless to say, I have retired from skydiving and now enjoy road biking, camping, and spending time with my 5 kids” he says with a smile.
Premier Wheels Direct has many local long-time customers and many customers who travel a great distance to enjoy the expert service and wide selection of products that they offer.
Located in the middle of Sheppard East Village, Premier Wheels Direct is owned by Colin Chung. Colin likes the way the area has been developing over the past 10 years and would like to create some community events in the future, to make it even better.
If you have a vehicle that needs a new set of wheels or tires, be sure to drop in for a visit. Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raymond Wu - HSBC Bank Canada
Raymond manages the very large branch of HSBC in the Oriental Centre, in the middle of Sheppard East Village. HSBC is considered a global bank because it is so well-branded overseas. It is common for immigrants to Canada to choose HSBC because they are already familiar with the Bank’s name.
Raymond is proud of the Bank’s reputation for good customer service. “If you have an account with me, you get first-class service from only me, the entire year” he says. His customers also like the fact that they can access accounts in other countries with a click of a button.
“We have a lot of seniors here at the branch, as well as newcomers,” says Raymond. It is also helpful that he can speak English, Cantonese, French and Mandarin to help newcomers get all the information they need in their own language.
His branch has been in this location for many years and Raymond has noticed that a number of buildings in the area are being refreshed and improved.
Raymond likes a work/life balance which includes golfing, cardio and personal training. He feels that HSBC supports its employees as they create a well-balanced life. He can be found on a road trip throughout Canada on his summer holidays, with old-style cities like Montreal being a favourite destination.
Stop by and say hello; chances are Raymond speaks your language.
Raymond can be reached at email@example.com
Vince Gutierrez - Remely’s Filipino Restaurant
Vince’s family owns and operates Remely’s Filipino Restaurant here in Sheppard East Village. It is one of the five east-end restaurants that Tyler Cowen visited in 2015, about which he said “I concluded that Scarborough is the best ethnic food suburb I have seen in my life, ever, by an order of magnitude.” These comments generated a great deal of media exposure for Remely’s and the Sheppard East Village area.
It is no surprise that the Restaurant receives such high praise. Opened in 1997, Remely’s is an authentic Filipino eatery that serves cuisine with a high standard of quality and freshness. It started out in Vince’s mother’s kitchen and moved to the current location to cook up more of the good food people have come to love. All orders are served with a genuine helping of Filipino hospitality. “We really wanted to bring some of our food and culture here for people to enjoy” Vince says.
The Restaurant is frequented by many in the Filipino community, as well as local office workers and residents from all walks of life.
Vince manages the eatery and is constantly looking for new ideas to help Remely’s continue to be the best it can be. “I like to incorporate good ideas from other fine restaurants into my own business”.
Vince lives here with his family and two children. When asked what he likes best about the neighbourhood he said, “It’s like a suburb that doesn’t feel like a suburb.”
In his off hours, he likes to sing Filipino music in a group, and likes listening to good music.
You can reach Vince at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Brooker - Krown Rustproofing
If you want to have a long conversation about rust, drop in and talk to Justin or his brother Austin, from Krown Rustproofing. They are the second generation managers of two locations of Canada’s #1 rust protection company. Their special formulations are only available in a Krown Rustproofing facility.
This is a truly family business, started by Justin’s parents and now run by the two brothers.
“We do all of this for our parents, they gave us an amazing opportunity and we learned in school that there is a difference between a job and a career.” Austin said. “We don’t mind going in early or staying late when it’s your own business.” The brothers have big ambitions for their business, going forward.
They love the small community feel of the area and talk about the Boys and Girls Clubs and baseball teams that help keep youth in their neighbourhood on the right track. Both brothers have been working since they were teenagers, giving them a great work ethic coming out of high school. They would occasionally have to leave school to help out at the shop - one sacrifice of being part of a family business.
They have learned a lot from their mom and dad about customer service, treating people with respect and running a successful business and they try, on a daily basis, to make them proud.
There are over 200 Krown franchises across Canada and, each year, they pick one day to donate car wash proceeds to the Children’s Wish Foundation. But Justin and Austin decided to take it one step further. Drive into their shop for a car wash - any day of the year - and all the proceeds go to the charity.
If you get a chance to stop in and say ‘hello’, you will see why these two young entrepreneurs are poised for retail stardom.
Dr Jacqueline Wong - Sheppard Village Dental
Dr Jacqueline Wong is a dentist who has been at Sheppard Village Dental for eight years now. She enjoys working with the owner, Dr. Malkit Brach, as part of his dental team. She finds him to be very ethical in how he runs his practice, as well as how he treats his patients.
It has been a wonderful learning experience for her. She said that dental school teaches you all about how to fix teeth. But when you actually start to practice you need to learn how to treat the person sitting in the chair.
At Sheppard Village Dental, the person comes first - before their teeth. She thinks it’s great to be part of a full-service practice, where virtually every procedure can be completed in the office.
In 2014, Sheppard Village Dental initiated a program they repeated in 2015 - in which they offer a one-day free dental clinic for 50 or more adults who need cleaning, extraction or a filling. The day was called ‘Going the Extra Smile’ and involved 25 volunteers.
Dr. Brach noted “we have been blessed with the support of the Scarborough community for over 25 years and my team and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to give back.”
Jacqueline Wong was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada when she was 8 years old. She speaks 3 different dialects of Chinese, which can be helpful in her practice.
Jacqueline had the choice between architecture and the sciences when she was in school. Because she enjoyed sketching and painting, she chose the sciences so she could continue to keep her artistic side as a hobby.
Her advice to anyone who puts off going to the dentist because of the needles, “if you can come in before a problem gets worse, it can be easier to deal with. Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth.”
Jacqueline loves the culinary options nearby. “Before working in the area, I used to eat mainly Chinese food but, since moving to the neighbourhood, I have tried many other different cuisines. I have to say it’s been great, enjoying and learning about other types of food.”
Jacqueline and her husband have an 18 month old boy named Oliver. It would be fair to say he has the cleanest teeth in the world. Did we mention she is married to - you guessed it - another dentist, who is an orthodontist at Sheppard Village Dental?
Syed Nasib - SDN Consulting
When Syed opened his consulting firm in the neighbourhood he called it SDN consulting - not after three members of the company, but after three members of his family: his wife and two daughters.
Syed is the owner of SDN Consulting Inc., a corporate management consulting firm that specializes in financial management, business financing, bookkeeping, payroll management and tax management. His company helps to transform a micro-sized business into a small business, and a small business into a medium-sized business. He has a great track record of helping each of them successfully grow and prosper.
SDN chose to concentrate its customer base on micro and small businesses and charitable and non-profit organizations, by providing expert financial advice at a lower cost point. SDN employs a dedicated team of Certified Professional Accountants and Certified Tax Practitioners trained by the Canada Revenue Agency, each with over a decade of experience in their related field.
Syed came to Canada from Pakistan, with a wealth of financial expertise, and started his business in the Scarborough area in 2014. His thoughtful approach leaves his staff and his clients feeling good when they work together on a project. His clients come from all over the GTA and he finds his office perfectly located whether his clients drive or take the TTC.
He loves the cultural mix in the neighbourhood and the foods from many countries that are available.
He lives in the area with his wife and two daughters. On weekends, he likes to pursue his passions for fishing and photography. He likes to head out early and get set up for the beautiful morning light that comes with the sunrise. He talks of one favourite photograph he has taken - a close up shot of a bird chasing a dragonfly in the air.
If you get the pleasure of meeting Syed sometime, ask him about that picture - he’d love to show it to you.
Donna Edwards - GYMagic
You could say that Donna Edwards never planned on having her own business creating gymnastic outfits. One day she and her sister went to pick up some competitive suits for a big competition. The company didn’t have them ready, so they completed the outfits themselves. It was the beginning of a new career for both of them.
Donna and her sister own GYMagic, where they design, create and finish spandex outfits for gymnastics, dance and even figure skating. They are wizards with a sewing machine and hand-sew decorative finishes like Swarovski crystals, to add that extra bit of pizazz.
Their colourful shop is a feast for the eyes. “Sometimes a little girl will come in and her mother will say you can only pick one outfit, and that little girl will start to cry because she can’t decide” says Donna smiling.
“We do all outfits for Gymnastics Ontario and when you see the girls all in a line in their matching suits, it’s pretty rewarding.”
Donna was born in the West Indies and enjoys the cultural mix of the neighbourhood. She knows the area well and likes the location, with its many good schools, TTC service and highway access.
“I like to see the children get a chance to do sports. Baseball, basketball, any organized sport, as it can teach you important lessons about life, that sportsmanship is important “ says Donna.
When she is not busy at the sewing table she likes to craft one-of-a-kind wedding cakes. She has taken a few courses - but relies mostly on her own intuition and some sweet icing to craft each beautiful confection.
If you get a chance to drop by the shop and see all the wonderfully creative designs hanging on the rack, we think you’ll agree - GYMagic scores a perfect 10.
Chris Rollox - Gemini K9 Obedience
When Chris was only 12 years old someone asked him what he was going to be when he grew up and he remembers his answer to this day: “I’m going to be a dog trainer”.
Chris has more than fulfilled that promise to himself with his highly successful dog training and obedience school, Gemini K9 Obedience.
He offers all kinds of dog training - from the youngest puppy to the fully-trained military dog. His true passion is the working canine: dogs that assist humans: including seeing-eye dogs, special needs, hearing impaired, police service, and military dogs.
His modern, clean facility even has room to board that special pet, while you leave on vacation.
Born in Guyana, but raised right here in Scarborough, Chris has many good things to say about his neighbourhood. He has a warm comfortable feeling for the area and does a fair bit of walking, with 4 dogs of his own. He has two German Shepherds and two Doberman Pinschers and lives with his wife and two boys. He loves the diversity of the local shops and restaurants.
GeminiK9Obedience also sells unique products and toys for dogs - many created and manufactured on the premises, using high-quality leathers and hardware.
When asked why some dog owners need his services he replied, “some owners are simply not able to read their own animal, I can help them learn that skill.”
Stop by and say ‘hello’. And don’t forget to bring your dog.
Lydia Adams - Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto.
We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Lydia Adams, Conductor and Artistic Director of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, a community choir currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary. The Amadeus Choir presents a 4 concert Toronto season each year, records CDs of great choral works and is asked to perform regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and other well-known musical ensembles.
Lydia also conducts the internationally-renowned Elmer Iseler Singers and is a winner of the prestigious Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Lydia grew up with an early love of music. Her mother was a musical force in Nova Scotia -pioneering a youth choir in Glace Bay and teaching piano, with a touch of courage and inspiration on the side. When Lydia’s mother died 4 years ago, she received many letters from people who had enjoyed her music and had been inspired by her.
“Music teaches life” Lydia says. “A choir has tremendous heart, it gives the audience exactly what they need at the time, be it strength, joy or solace.”
Lydia loves the Sheppard East Village neighbourhood for its great transit, free parking and culinary diversity.
She would very much like to see other arts groups make this area their home. She thinks this neighbourhood is a fabulous place to put down roots, so she extends an open invitation to other non-profit Toronto arts companies to put Sheppard East Village on their radar. Can you hear that Toronto or does the Choir have to sing a little LOUDER?
Lydia shares her Sheppard. ‘Hallelujah’ to that.
Yummy Tan - Gourmet Malaysia Restaurant
Yummy Tan is a long-time resident of Sheppard East Village. He runs Gourmet Malaysia, which started out as a small take-out service in a food court and has since grown into a big beautiful restaurant that can serve a large number of people. Gourmet Malaysia serves Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean and Thai food. It also has a VIP room for up to 50 people and a larger space for 150, with lots of electronics and other cool features for customers of every age.
Yummy has a real name that is hard to pronounce - so he decided that, because his food was yummy, it would be the perfect name for someone who runs a restaurant.
He has many long-time customers and if you ever get a chance to meet him, you will know why. He has a warm personality that makes people feel very comfortable. And if you really want to get him going, ask him to do a little Karaoke for you. “I think it is the food and my singing that is the real draw” say Yummy, smiling. “I love hanging out with my customers and making them happy.”
Gourmet Malaysia is truly a family affair - with Yummy’s wife working as the head chef.
Yummy is Indonesian and loves the food and the dance.
He really enjoys the cultural mix of the Sheppard East Village neighbourhood. He says it celebrates so many different holidays and celebrations, there is always something going on.
If you’ve never had a chance to experience all that Gourmet Malaysia has to offer, drop in and ask for Yummy. You may walk in a stranger and walk out a friend.
Steven Liu - Orient Express
In the fast-paced food business in Toronto, one constant is change and the desire to improve the offering for your customers.
Steven Liu, who was operating a restaurant at 4271 Sheppard Ave. East, now has new partners who have joined the business and helped bring about a variety of positive changes.
With a new business plan, the restaurant was extensively renovated and re-opened in the spring of 2017 with a completely revised menu and a new name : ORIENT EXPRESS.
Steven and his partners welcome you to come and enjoy the delicious foods they offer.
When in his 30s, he immigrated to Canada from China, where he had been a medical doctor for many years.
When asked what he does in his spare time he said, “I love to swim every day, in my building - it wakes me up”. He has a 6 year old son and a Parakeet he is training to speak.
He enjoys seeing all the regulars that come to his restaurant, from all cultures and walks of life. He likes the convenience of banks and other restaurants within walking distance of Orient Express. If he does venture out for a meal himself, he goes to a local restaurants for a change of pace.
Mike Bozian - Brimell Toyota Scion
It is no surprise that Mike Bozian ended up as General Sales Manager of Brimell Toyota Scion. He is the third generation of his family to work in the business. His father, Mark, and his grandfather, Nick, both managed the Toyota dealership over the years. His father expanded the business to include Scion, land development, paint and collision and investment companies.
Brimell Toyota Scion has been in the area for 45 years. They are conveniently located west of Markham & Sheppard - just north of the 401. One step through the front door and you will see a large, bright facility that offers friendly professional service everywhere you look. There are lots of vehicles to check out - on the floor and in the large parking lot. But it’s the people, not the bricks and mortar, that make it special. Even though the dealership is a large open space, it has a real family feel. Many employees return to visit, or come back to work there, because of the great atmosphere.
When Mike has time off, he likes to cook. He says he’s enjoyed learning about new food experiences in the Sheppard East Village as well as in the specialty grocery stores, where he can find many spices and ingredients not found in bigger stores. Mike has received great tips and recipes from employees, to help expand his cooking abilities. He knows his way around a BBQ and - when asked for the recipe for his special rib rub - was not willing to reveal the top secret ingredients.
The Brimell Group - Brimell Toyota, Brimell Scion and Brimell Group CSN paint and collision, as well as Bozco JMB Land Development Ltd and Nedlac Investment Company - thinks it’s important to give back to the local community. Each year, in June, they host a car show on their lot, with cool race-type modified vehicles lined up on their parking lot. Last year, they had over 1,000 people buy tickets and all proceeds went to the East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club. Mike likes the idea that the donation goes to something right in his neighbourhood.
If you would like to talk about cars - or you have an interesting recipe for him to try - drop in to Brimell and say ‘hello’ to Mike.
Alice Jin - Five Star Auctions & Appraisals
Alice is a new to the area as the President of Five Star Auctions in Sheppard East Village, that she owns with several partners. She has always liked antiques and has a keen eye for authentic pieces from around the world. She can pretty quickly tell if something is a real antique or a fake – which isn’t always an easy thing to do.
One side of the building is antique dealers and the other side is the live online auction, where people from around the globe bid for unique antique pieces.
"I like to go to auctions, flea markets, antique dealers and make a great find", Alice says. "I once found a beautiful vase at a flea market for $10 and knew it was worth in the $500 range".
"You need to have a lot of history of the period when something was created, this takes time to learn." If you visit the website you will see a wide variety of porcelain, coral, jade, art and sculptural pieces.
"We really try to give our customers a fair price. If it is reasonable our customers appreciate that. We have a good reputation for being trustworthy. Our business is a big online business. We get people from China, U.S., everywhere, joining in online to bid on our antiques."
You could say the world is her oyster.
Alice likes to share her Sheppard.
Dr Monica Dinca - Brimley Dental Centre
When Monica was a small girl living in Romania, she had yearly visits to a wonderful dentist who was amazing with kids. She loved going for check-ups and told her parents that one day she would be a dentist.
And she did just that. After being trained as a dentist in Romania, she came to Canada in 2002 and went back to university here to re-certify herself to Canadian Dental standards.
She spent a few years working in the Hamilton area, but when a dentist in the Sheppard East Village was looking to sell his long-time practice, Monica decided to buy it and begin her dream. She likes the fact that all the same hygienists and staff were able to stay for consistency. "I’m the only new one around here", says Monica laughing.
"I have only been in the area a few short months, I live and work here. I love the multi-cultural aspect of the area and look forward to trying all the different restaurants."
She says her job is very rewarding. She talks of a young man that came to her and said that his brother told him he didn’t like his teeth because they had big spaces between them. Dr Dinca was able to re-create a beautiful new smile for the man and could see the joy written all over his face.
"I am a perfectionist and I am meticulous in my work." She says, "And I have lots of patience with my patients at Brimley Dental Centre."
Sounds like a great combination. Feel free to stop by and welcome Monica to the neighbourhood.
Monica likes to share her Sheppard and remind everyone to floss.
Ed Lukezic - Canadian Tire
Ed is a pretty hard guy to miss. At 6’5", he is a big soft-spoken guy who loves nothing more than watching his two teenaged sons play the game of hockey. They are both elite players with dreams of the NHL.
Sounds like the perfect guy to run a store that sells all sorts of sporting equipment. With years of experience from another Canadian Tire in the area, Ed took over the newly renovated store at Sheppard and McCowan, in the spring of 2014.
"This is the perfect Canadian Tire neighbourhood" says Ed. "I hope to retire here, I love it." One of the first items on the agenda for the new store was to introduce an Employee of the Month program. "Without good people you have nothing" he states, "If we treat our employees really well, then they, in turn, will make the customers happy."
He talks to employees every morning and wants to know who has gone the extra mile. It’s the staff that helps pick that one special Employee of the Month. And he says there is nothing that makes him happier than when the name is announced and people shake their heads in agreement.
Ed grew up in Slovenia and moved with his family to Canada when he was six. He remembers being a little shy about telling people where he came from, but says as he got older he became more and more proud of his heritage and thinks everyone should be proud of where they come from. "If we bring the best out of everyone, we become a much better community than we would be."
When asked how he finds the time to go and watch his two boys play hockey, he smiles and says, "I make the time." Words spoken like a true Canadian.
Ed is looking to share his Sheppard for many years to come.
Lance Hanson - Scarborotown Chrysler
Lance cruised through the Scarborotown Chrysler dealership service area recently, where he has worked since 1995, and was handed a plate of jet-black curry. Before taking a bite he asked what it was, and was told to just eat it, and not worry about the origin. It was 8:30 am, but since the guys had gone to so much trouble he stuck his fork in and started to eat.
He was surprised to find out that a few guys that work at the shop had hunted a deer on the weekend, and a Sri Lankan fella had curried it. "It was amazing" said Lance. "When I walk through the service bays around lunch time it smells amazing. Chinese, West Indies, Sri Lankan, Hakka, it’s all home cooked food from every culture. I love it."
When asked what he liked about being in the car business his answer was unique. "It’s not car knowledge that I have, it’s people knowledge, figure that out and I think your dealership can be successful."
"It’s dead simple, if you want to retain customers, you have to retain your staff. We have mechanics here that were 18 when they started and are now in their late 40s." Lance feels that if his employees are content (90 and counting), that in turn will make for a happy customer.
"When someone buys a car from us we are very eager to get the service business. If you can keep a customer’s car running well, and have it ready when you say you will, for 4 or 5 years, they will buy another car from you. Occasionally we don’t get it right and our customers let us know. We are the first to admit fault when something isn’t perfect. Then we make it right. I think that makes us different."
Lance isn’t sure what the boys in the service bays will be cooking up next, but he is always willing to give it a try.
Lance is always keen to share his Sheppard.
Perry Panagakos - Markham Station Restaurant
When Perry and his cousin Jim say they offer an all-day breakfast, they mean it. As co-owners of The Markham Station Restaurant they operate a big diner-style place with a take-out area and a sports bar. "We are open 24 hours a day, every day".
"We get a huge variety of different crowds coming through here. We get the after-party crowd at 2am for the big breakfasts. We get lots of regular morning customers, and we get lots of families having dinner in the evening."
It has been in the same location, in Sheppard East Village, since 1988 and is well-known in the community for burgers, steaks and everything in between.
"Our families come from Greece. Our parents came here in the ‘50s as dishwashers and prep chefs, and those values have stuck with us," says Perry.
Part of what makes them successful is the service staff. Almost all of them have been here for 15 or 20 years. They know everyone. People come back for that reason alone.
"We used to do a 12 hour shift 5 days and a double one day so the other guy could have a day off. It’s not that way anymore, but we are still on call if the computer goes down or the fire alarm goes off at 3am," says Jim.
They feel the reason they have been successful can be summed up in three ways: good food, good service and good value.
Perry likes to share his Sheppard 24 hours a day.
Ray Sanchez - Mister Transmission
If would be safe to say that Ray Sanchez doesn’t drive like he used to. That’s because back in the day he was a ¼ mile drag racer on the U.S circuit. He could hit 225 mph in about 6 seconds, behind the wheel of his 1967 Camaro.
His love of cars started when he took automotive courses in high school and college. At the young age of 15 he bought his first car and fixed it up to have ready when he could legally drive at 16.
"I used to race cars, now I fix them", he says, laughing.
As a long-time owner of the Mister Transmission in Sheppard East Village, he is a 23 year veteran of the neighbourhood. He and his expert team repair all makes and models from A to Z. "We can take care of anything", Ray said."My team and I are constantly keeping up with technology and every technician here attends two training sessions every year to stay current."
"I think honesty and integrity is a big part of our success. I would say that 60-70% of my business is word of mouth."
Ray has both a South American and French-Canadian background. And he feels fortunate that his children get to visit Peru every summer. People live with less material goods, but more happiness. He thinks there is a lesson in that, for all of us.
"I think you almost have to leave Canada for a bit, to really appreciate how beautiful it is here."
For 23 years Ray has been sharing his Sheppard.
Richard Zhu - Taste of Western China
Richard and his partners own TASTE OF WESTERN CHINA Restaurant in Sheppard East Village. With a partner, he runs a basketball camp for 100 students, and he is the President of an association from his hometown in northern China.
That means 7 days a week he is busy doing something.
He did a lot of research before deciding to open his Chinese restaurant in this area. He says his food isn’t like most Chinese food. "My hometown is close to the Pakistan border so the food and spices are different, my BBQ lamb kebab is the best around".
"Both the Muslim community and the Chinese community enjoy the kind of food we cook here. I hired both my chefs from my hometown for that real authentic flavour." Richard says."We try to make the best food. Service is very important. We try to make friendships of our customers."
Richard moved to Canada 13 years ago where he played basketball for the national team. At 6 foot 5 he says he is actually on the shorter side for the position he played. He finds it very rewarding to share his experiences with the kids as a coach.
He lives here with his wife and two young children. He is very thankful for the opportunities and the education available for his children here in Canada. And we’re glad he chose Canada to put down roots.
Richard is a busy guy who likes to share his Sheppard.
Mona Khan - Mona’s Roti
4810 Sheppard Avenue East
Ten years ago when Mona’s Roti first opened, people would stop in to ask the same question: “Is this the same Mona’s Roti from Marabella in Trinidad?” Turns out it is. Before moving to Canada in 1987, Mona Khan served up flavourful curries and rotis at a family-run business ‘back home.’ “Our restaurant was famous,” she says, reminiscing on a bustling atmosphere where weekday lunch lines were as long as leisurely Saturdays. “We started that roti shop in 1983 and there was no problem getting the customers to come. They’d come from all over the island. It was word of mouth.”
That familiar name and Mona’s love for cooking up home style Caribbean cuisine has translated to steady business for the small, Sheppard East Village takeout shop she owns with her husband. “We moved to Canada because of the kids. We wanted them to go to school and have a better life,” she shares. “Opening a restaurant was in the background. We thought ‘let’s do it again here’ because we had such good reviews. It was good in Trinidad. We worked like hell but the money was there!”
Owning a small business in Toronto has its challenges, Mona admits. “Trinidad is more easygoing. Don’t get me wrong, you have to work, but it’s laidback.” She laughs while talking about how hot her little kitchen can get during the city’s humid summers.
Stop by and that’s where you’ll usually find Mona: in the kitchen, folding fragrant meat and vegetable stews into light, chewy rotis, while her husband takes orders up front. “Roti is our main thing and the boneless chicken roti is most popular,” she says, adding that her staff takes care not to make it too spicy. And though you can tackle the hefty wrap with cutlery, Mona has this advice: “The best way to eat it is with your hands, really!”
Ask Mona to share her Sheppard.
Helen Valido - Jesse Jr. Filipino Restaurant
4415 Sheppard Avenue East
Family means a lot to Helen Valido and her husband, the owners of Jesse Jr. Filipino Restaurant. The business, which first opened on Kennedy Road in 2002, is named after their son who is now 16-years-old. And Helen’s parents and brother can be found in the kitchen, plating up hearty Filipino cooking.
“It was my husband’s passion to have a restaurant – he’s not a good cook, but he likes to eat!,” says Helen, a former registered nurse, who manages the day-to-day of the business. “Whenever we would go to other restaurants he’d say, ‘I want to have one like this.’”
Filipino food is hearty, meaty and is influenced by its European colonial past. Some of Jesse Jr.’s specialities include sisig, which is crunchy pork skin served with mayonnaise and onions, pork lechon, and a stew called beef caldereta. Or you can order the popular sweet treat, halo halo, which is a mix of coconut jelly, green beans, ice cream and shaved ice with evaporated milk. “It’s very popular,” says Helen.
When the Valido family immigrated to Canada in 1986 they lived in Winnipeg, but eventually relocated to Toronto. “I like Toronto because of the weather,” says Helen, smiling. “And Sheppard was good for a big location because there are lots of businesses, it’s close to Scarborough Town Centre, and there are lots of Filipino people living around here. There are very nice people in this neighbourhood.”
I’m proud to share my Sheppard.
Howard Weisberg - Howard Weisberg Law Office
4651 Sheppard Avenue East
If you’ve lived in Toronto for a while, you might recognize Howard Weisberg from his TV days. “Oh that was a long time ago,” says the lawyer, laughing. “A good number of years ago when I was starting out and trying to get a reputation, I was volunteering for legal aid work at the courthouse and somebody approached me to do a law show once a week for community television. I said, ‘why not?’ It was a call-in program and people would ask questions about various areas of law.”
Howard’s been practicing corporate and commercial, real estate and estates law, in the east end, for 38 years. “I’m almost a native! I came right out of school,” he says. “At the time, in the mid-’70s, everyone was moving west to Mississauga and Oakville and we decided to buck the trend and move east.” He’s deeply entrenched in the local community, doing work for second and even third generations of clients. “It’s a good neighbourhood to do business because there are so many people from different cultures. There’s a sense of loyalty as well, people who are here and live and work in the area use the businesses in the area.”
He’s seen the neighbourhood change since opening his first practice out of a small house at Midland Avenue in 1975. “At that time, it was considered downtown Agincourt and was very much a real Anglo-Saxon community. Probably within 5 years of our arrival the community started to change.” Now at Sheppard East and McCowan, Howard likens the area to the United Nations and says the new cultural mix gives the community a new identity – and gives his work some new perspective. “It’s interesting sitting down and speaking with people from a cultural perspective,” he says. “We’re all basically the same. That really brings home what this community is.”
Ask Howard to share his Sheppard.
John Pugh - CycleWorld Superstore
4545 Sheppard Avenue East
“I started out selling motorcycles at 4455 Sheppard Avenue East, and ended up at 4545 Sheppard, 40 years later,” says John Pugh, the owner of CycleWorld Superstore. Though Pugh spent about 15 years doing business downtown, he returned to Sheppard in 2007 after purchasing CycleWorld from its original owner. Today, it’s the largest pre-owned motorbike dealer in Canada.
“When I started, in 1974, Sheppard Avenue was a hard-paved one lane road with ditches on either side. I’ve got pictures of kids pulling wheelies on motorcycles by the railroad tracks!” says the young-at-heart 60-year-old. “I’ve seen this area grow through good city planning, enthusiastic business, and responsible people.”
Pugh’s spent most of his life in the east end: he attended Victoria Park Secondary School, and went on to study at the University of Toronto at Scarborough Campus. He bought his first bike, a 1973 Kawasaki F11 250, with money that was made from cutting lawns. But owning a motorcycle business was what he really wanted. “Selling used bikes is the best thing that ever happened to me, because every day is different. Motorcycles are fun, they’re dreams,” he says.
So CycleWorld, with a front garden of 200 bright day lilies planted by Pugh himself, is kind of like a place where dreams come true. He helped a retired 70-year-old Israeli highway planner purchase his very first motorcycle, and this year Pugh met his furthest client: a man who rode his bike 17,000 kilometres, from Brazil to Markham. “He found us online, and we serviced his bike and now he’s going to ride to Alaska,” says Pugh, smiling.
Sheppard East Village has changed over the years, and he says it’s still a great place to do business. The 401 makes it easy for curious motorcycle enthusiasts traveling from around the Greater Toronto Area and the United States to find his shop. But, more importantly, CycleWorld is just around the corner from his own house.
I’m proud to share my Sheppard.
Joseph Lobo - Inprint Copy and Signs
4865 Sheppard Avenue East
For Joseph Lobo, moving to Canada meant discovering a brand new career. Joseph, who was born in the Indian tech hub of Bangalore, worked as an electrical engineer in Dubai for 20 years. In 1991, his family relocated to Toronto. “We were happy but I had trouble getting a job, so eventually I trained (in printing) with a friend and started my business from home in 2003,” says the bubbly business owner. “It wasn’t sufficient, so in 2005 I started my shop. I started with one machine and now we have six printing machines.”
Joseph lives near his humming Sheppard East Village print shop. “When we landed in Mississauga in 1991, I saw that there were less people and not that many cultures. Here it was different,” he says. “I like this neighbourhood because there are a lot of community people and small businesses. And there are a lot of people going up and down the main road.”
Sheppard’s high traffic often keeps Joseph and his staff at the shop, past their regular business hours. “Sometimes we have to work 24 hours. Still, we have to cooperate with them because they are customers, so we will complete it,” he says with a smile. On the rare break, Joseph likes to pick-up chili chicken from nearby Babu’s.
These neighbouring establishments and industries are key to Joseph’s business, as well as the students and new Canadians who come in to print and photocopy documents. But he’s also quite civic minded. An active church member (he sings in the choir!), Joseph is eager to help community organizations with printing needs that benefit fundraisers or programs. “It is more responsibility and stress, but I like being my own boss because I don’t have to work for anybody,” he says, proudly. “Whatever I do is for myself. And I’ve always wanted to do new things.”
Several years ago, Muhammad Noor joined the firm and now helps look after many of their satisfied customers.
Joseph is proud to share his Sheppard – and so is Muhammad.
Ken Diceman - Superior Tire
5070 Sheppard Avenue East
Got a car question? Ask Ken Diceman at Superior Tire. Even if he can’t answer it, he knows who to call. Ken, the store manager, has been working with Superior Tire for 31 years so he knows a thing or two about loyalty.
“We’re a customer service business, doing everything from mechanical services to tune-ups, tires and brakes,” he says. “We have a lot of connections with businesses. If we can’t provide it, we have a relationship with someone who can. And we’re not just throwing names out there,” he adds. “It’s people we take our own cars to. There’s a transmission place and a collision place nearby. We try and keep it local.”
Ken’s store is the GTA headquarters of Superior Tire, which puts it in a unique position to offer new services and test programs. “And because of our smaller location we don’t have a lot of staff, which means when we write up a work order on your vehicle we see that right through until we invoice you,” he says, proudly. And it’s got a location advantage too: “Automotive businesses do well here because Sheppard is a main artery. I feel we’re the heart and hub of Scarborough.”
Ken’s employees live in the neighbourhood. “They’re happy with this area and are young enough – in their 20s and 30s – to be around for a quite some time to enjoy it.” One of those staff members, Danny, a young salesperson, is a walking car encyclopedia, says Ken. “He can answer most questions without having to look anything up. It’s very impressive! And he knows his customers by name, even if he hasn’t seen them in six months or so.”
When Ken retired, Danny Wong was appointed Store Manager. “Ken taught me so much over the years – he wanted me to know all that he knew ” Danny says.
Just like Ken, Danny is also proud to share his Sheppard.
Michael Wang - Asian Legend
4452 Sheppard Avenue East
The Wang family knows Chinese food, and they know how to run a business. Since opening the first Asian Legend restaurant on the second floor of a downtown Chinatown building, they’ve grown to seven locations in the Greater Toronto Area. But opening their biggest, fanciest location in Sheppard East Village wasn’t just business, it was personal. “In 1998, around when we opened the first restaurant, my dad was working at a restaurant at Sheppard and Brimley because we needed Canadian experience,” says Michael Wang, who helps run the business. “Opening a restaurant here wasn’t easy at that time because you’d need a car to bring supplies back and forth. He always wanted to come back one day when the chance was right.”
So when Asian Legend moved into the old Swiss Chalet location in 2007 it was sort of like a homecoming for Michael’s father, who passed away earlier this year. “We wanted to introduce our food and establish a new way of eating in this area,” says Michael. “And it’s very multicultural around here so now we have a lot of customers from the Philippines and India, China, the Middle East, and Canadians.”
The Wang family immigrated to Canada from Taiwan in 1995. The small Chinese island is home to people from different parts of the country and has developed its own unique cuisine. “It’s kind of like a multicultural China. You can find food from all over,” says Michael. “In Taiwanese food you don’t want too much – just the right touch!”
The Wang family has personalized much of their menu, from their prized smoky duck, to the prime steak Szechuan beef, and hand-made chicken soup-filled dumplings. Dumplings are a house specialty at Asian Legend, where skilled, specially-trained chefs can make up to 300 to 400 dumplings per hour. “A machine can make up to 9,000 in an hour but you can’t compare the taste,” insists Michael. “But we make it in front of you - so you can see how it’s done and know it’s man-made. We want to show Canadians new dishes and fine Chinese cooking.”
Michael is proud to share his Sheppard.
Sue Latino - Redline Automotive
4736 Sheppard Ave E.
There’s always eye candy parked in front of Redline Automotive. “If you drive by you’ll see old Camaros and Corvettes,” says Sue Latino, who manages and owns Redline with her husband, Eric. “We take pride in those vehicles because they’re beautiful. And customers bring them in because they know we have specialists and have been working on them for years.”
Redline, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is truly a family business: the Latino’s two sons work in the shop and are passionate about performance and accessorizing work. As for Sue? “I think I was just thrown into the car world with the boys!” she says, laughing. “It started out with the bookkeeping years ago and now I’m there every day. Now I sell tires and schedule appointments!”
The family lived in the east end for many years, and opened their first automotive business near Finch Avenue and Markham Road before moving into the Firestone location on Sheppard. Along with standard automotive servicing, they’re known for the custom performance work. “We have customers coming in from distant places, and people from 20 years ago still coming in,” says Sue. “For the older cars, we have old school mechanics who have the knowledge on what to do to make them faster or perform better.”
Speed is another reason Redline’s got a rep. Eric Latino isn’t just a mechanic and businessman. He’s a record-breaking pro-mod race car driver. “Last year he was the U.S. and Canadian champ,” says Sue. She’s proud of her husband, and says his racing is always a topic of conversation amongst regular customers, but she isn’t so crazy about just how fast he goes. “His car, a ’69 Camaro, goes in the low 6’s, high 5’s in the quarter mile – at some ridiculous miles per hour!”
Sue’s proud to share her Sheppard.