When Gurpreet Toor was studying for his MBA at Brunel University in London, England, he wondered how he could apply what he was learning to his own business. After several years working with large corporations, Bell and Loblaws Companies, the Toronto-born entrepreneur got his wish. In December 2010, Gurpreet opened his own Boston Pizza franchise at the Leslie/Lake Shore mall.
“My MBA was on entrepreneurship,” he explains, “so I took the challenge. It was a learning curve for the first year but it’s been going well.”
Gurpreet had the help of his in-laws who’d worked with Boston Pizza in Edmonton, where the Canadian franchise is headquartered. His wife, Rupa, assists with the HR side of the business. Together they work hard to make it a family-friendly, local place to eat and have fun. The couple’s daughter and son (2 and 4-years-old) already “love Boston Pizza”. “My son tells me that he’s ready to go to work with daddy,” says Gurpreet.
One of Gurpreet’s biggest surprises since opening the business was the amount of time it takes to deal with HR needs – not just staffing the restaurant but making sure staff are feeling good about what they are doing and customers are satisfied. As a result, the restaurant has seen little turnover since opening, a rarity in the restaurant business.
“It’s all about setting up a good work environment,” he says, “which means instilling core values that lead to good results.” One such value is open communication. Staff and customers are encouraged to speak up and be open about what’s on their mind. There’s also a standard of customer service that everyone commits to, “Complaints can’t be shoved under the rug,” he notes.
The restaurant attracts customers from the Beaches, Leslieville as well as those living downtown. In addition to running the business, Gurpreet spends a lot of time planning various promotions and parties for customers.
“We have many events throughout the year,” he says, such as a “school’s out” party at the end of June and New Year’s Eve events for families so kids can celebrate earlier in the evening. Gurpreet’s also ran a Pan Am launch this summer and participated in a fundraiser for MS and JumpStart, with other merchants in the mall.
Boston Pizza attracts families over dinner hour, and in the evenings, the sports bar fills up with friends, individuals and couples enjoying a night out with good food and drink while watching any number of favourite sports on large screen TVs. The name may suggest only pizza but popular items on the menu include the jambalaya pasta, Buffalo chicken sandwich, and healthy grilled fish or chicken tacos. The perogy pizza is another favourite, and for dessert, “Chocolate Explosion”.
“Running a business continues to be a journey,” he says, “but we’ve got a lot going on here. Come on in and check us out!”
Boston Pizza – Leslie and Lake Shore