The celebration at John’s No Frills this morning was as much a homecoming as it was a grand opening.
“I’m excited to be returning home to Newmarket,” said Newmarket-born-and-raised franchise owner John van Teunenbroek at the event this morning attended by local dignitaries, Loblaw and No Frills company representatives, staff and customers.
He marked the full-circle moment of opening John’s No Frills at 50 Davis Dr., in the plaza at Yonge Street and Davis Drive.
“Growing up in the community, my first job was actually at the Loblaws store that used to be in the same plaza as my new store. I look forward to serving the community for years to come,” he said.
He worked at the former Loblaws store throughout high school — he graduated from Sacred Heart Catholic High School — and university, when he decided to get into the grocery store business.
“So, I have a lot of roots in this town,” he said, adding he was born at York County Hospital, now Southlake Regional Health Centre, attended St. Paul and St. Nicholas Catholic elementary schools, and “played hockey in this town forever”.
“I’m really, really proud to be back to the community,” he said.
He started his career with No Frills in 2004 in Woodbridge as a grocery clerk and joined the franchisee program in 2008. He also assisted in opening the first No Frills location in Newmarket on Leslie Street in 2006.
To demonstrate his commitment to the community, van Teunenbroek chose to make a $1,000 donation to the Newmarket Food Pantry because “we share a common goal to feed everyone”.
His family — wife Shannon and daughters Ady and Braelyn — has moved from Shelburne, where van Teunenbroek owned a No Frills franchise, to settle in Newmarket.
“This is not my store, this is our store,” he said, acknowledging his staff, and welcoming the “haulers” who got up early this morning to shop at the new store.
“As some people know, at No Frills we call our customers ‘haulers’,” van Teunenbroek said. “And with this store, we’re offering those haulers an opportunity to haul the freshest, biggest grocery loads at the lowest prices. I want to welcome all the new haulers and, hopefully, we’ll see you for many years to come.”
“I’m so excited,” said customer Cathy Schaefer, who lives nearby. “I was running out the door before they even opened.”
“John hails from Newmarket, so he’s come back to his roots,” said Ric Estrela, district manager for No Frills, who emceed the grand opening ceremony. “We’re extremely pleased he had decided to come back to his old stomping grounds.”
The bright, expansive modern store is a “flagship model”, which will offer fresh produce — including locally grown vegetables and fruits, as well as organic offerings — a butcher counter with fresh meats cut on-site, fresh seafood, “reasonably priced” natural and gluten-free foods, deli, bakery, ready-to-eat meals and multicultural food, he said.
As well, starting Sept. 12, John’s No Frills will offer convenient online ordering and in-store pick up with PC Express on nofrills.ca.
“It does take a huge team effort,” Estrela said. “If you had come here a few weeks ago, you would have seen bare walls, and no floor and nothing on the shelves.
“Now you come in and see a fantastic store here and it took a lot of detail and effort to get it there. I’m very fortunate to be working with so many professional colleagues to make this all happen.”
Newmarket-Aurora MP Kyle Peterson welcomed van Teunenbroek, saying, “I know you’re no stranger to Newmarket, having grown up here … welcome home.
“I know you’ll be very successful in Newmarket, it’s a much-needed grocery store, and the location is fantastic … on the iconic corner of Yonge and Davis.”
Dawn Gallagher Murphy, constituency manager for Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, extended congratulations on behalf of Elliott and welcomed “the community partner” to town.
Newmarket Ward 5 Councillor Bob Kwapis extended congratulations and welcomed van Teunenbroek back to his “old stomping grounds” on behalf of the town.