Yet the well-established flavors and aromas of pizza, salads and Lebanese food will not change.
It was more than 25 years ago when Abrahim and Joumana Chater opened a small, 850 sq. ft., mom-and-pop pizzeria on Ilsley Avenue in Burnside Industrial Park. Needing it to grow, they moved into larger quarters, expanded that after White Juan in 2004 and today occupy 2,600 sq. ft. of sparkling space in a busy sector of the same street. A new name followed – Burnside Pizzeria Fresh Market.
The biggest change in recent years has been the passing of the torch to son Andrew, 26, who like his three older siblings, learned the trade almost from the time he could walk. He worked after school, weekends, summers, thoroughly enjoying the business, watching his father interact positively with customers who became friends, and seeing his mother work behind the scenes preparing the crusts, toppings and eventually the expanded menu that has become the store’s trademark.
“When we were kids, we rarely saw our parents,” Andrew says during a rare quiet moment at the shop. “The time I worked there was quality time I could spend with them because they worked morning to night and I was usually asleep when they got home. “
Today, Ibrahim and Joumana work “only” six or seven hours a day while Andrew, assuming ownership, puts in the long hours as the store opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. After a short day Saturday – 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Burnside Pizzeria rests on the Sabbath.
“My parents didn’t want me to do this (as a living) but I love the business,” says Andrew.
His three siblings have shunned it, entering other fields and raising families, yet Amanda, 28, a part-time dental hygienist, pops in regularly to help with the book keeping.
Abe, who came to Canada from Lebanon in 1971, started working with family in a children’s clothing store folding clothes for $50 a week.
“Then I got into my own stationary store for seven years before selling it, had a grocery store and was in a few other things before realizing, after working seven days a week, we didn’t have enough family time. I saw the opportunity in Burnside for a pizza shop and that was that.”
He met Joumana through friends soon after she came from war-torn Lebanon in 1979, married her and started a family.
Today, the patriarch is the greeter (“and the flirter,” laughs Amanda).
“I like the people of Burnside,” Abe admits. “They care about us and have always been supportive. I enjoy coming in every day. I still do everything.”
With a nod of affection, he adds, pointing to Andrew, “ He doesn’t do anything.”
Meanwhile, Andrew takes the barbs thrown at him while talking of the expanded menu, the fact they sell hundreds of slices a day, and have added catering to the offering.”
“Expansion isn’t just a dream anymore,” says Andrew. “It will happen. Although they’ve earned the time to relax, I just hope Joumana is still here doing the prep work”
With a laugh, he concludes, “and Abe still ranks third behind the two of us.”
Burnside Pizzeria Fresh Market accommodates to all cultures and all appetites. It strives on giving you a new experience to the world of Mediterranean cuisine. Allowing you to try new things and not feel sorry that you did! BP Fresh Market has made you feel at home with its family-like atmosphere and it will continue to do so in the future.
In 1991, Abrahim Chater and his wife Joumana, opened a small Ma and Pa pizzeria dedicated to providing quality foods in a friendly atmosphere. For over 20 years, Burnside Pizzeria has grown due to our dedication to our devoted customers. With this devotion Abrahim and Joumana decided to give back to their neighborhood and in doing so they had started expansion and renovation in 2007. By taking this venture our main objective was to provide a quiet relaxing atmosphere, a dash of European flare and reasonable pricing for the everyday consumer.
Abe and Joumana welcome people into their market as if they were coming into their home. We speak to each individual, to let them know that we thank them for supporting our family business and that we care!
The Burnside Pizzeria Fresh Market Team