Sponsor Spotlight – East Tea Can

In December 2016 East Tea Can opened it doors to the public at their location at 3115 Winston Churchill Blvd (just north of Dundas). As one of our supporters and sponsors in 2018, we got a chance to sit down with one of the owners, Shakir.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I hold a BSc Degree in Civil Engineering. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, starting my first business at the age of 24 with Mahmood, my business partner in East Tea Can as well.

The business was an import and distribution company in Baghdad, Iraq. We imported products from Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Italy, like olive oil, loose tea, coffee, canned vegetables and household cleaning supplies, and distributed them directly to retailers in Iraq.


How did you meet Mahmood?
Mahmood and I have been friends since high school. We started our first business together in Iraq back from 2010 to 2015. When the security situation in Iraq began to deteriorate, we had the chance to move to Canada and start all over again. We took it and we’re very happy that we did!


What motivated you to get into the restaurant business?
Three years ago, we moved to Canada from Baghdad, Iraq and within six months of arriving, we decided to open a new restaurant, after realizing that there was a gap in the Middle Eastern restaurant segment.

We have a passion for hospitality, so we started looking for opportunities to express our passion for running our own business, building a strong team and interacting with customers. We are full of energy and love to work long hours. We decided to open East Tea Can to re-define the Middle Eastern Dining Experience to those who haven’t been to the Middle East.


How did you come up with the name East Tea Can?
Inspired by our Middle Eastern culture, where aromatic tea is the pinnacle of every occasion; a symbol of hospitality; and a must-have treat after every delicious meal, comes our name East Tea Can

‘Estikan’ is the Arabic name of a small cup used for drinking tea. It goes back a century ago during the British colonization when it was taken as souvenirs. It originated from the English phrase ‘East Tea Can’ and used to differentiate it from other larger tea cups in the West.

Embedded in the Arabic culture, these tea glasses are unique for their simple handle-less shape. They are made in a diversity of colours and patterns on them.

We have more than six specialty teas designed to help you digest our delicious meals.


What’s your most popular dish?
I would have to say one of our Grill dishes – Iraqi Kabab with freshly baked bread. Our Grills are made from hormone free, non-frozen, halal meat and chicken. All spiced, marinated and grilled to perfection in our kitchen.


 We are very thankful for your support of our community as Gold sponsor for 2018. Many of our residents were/will be introduced to East Tea Can through your sponsorship of our Movie Night and Kitefest. Any message for our residents?

We welcome you to come out to the restaurant and give us a try. We’ve created a unique space that you could call a ‘collectors’ heaven’ – a delightful mosaic of authentic elements carefully selected from every corner of the Middle East and brought together to paint a vibrant, authentic experience.

From our colourful mosaic decorated brick oven to the ornamental floor tiles, handmade wooden chairs, and pop style wall art – all put together to create a surprising cultural orchestra for you to enjoy every moment.

Sponsor Spotlight – Mary Brown’s

In June, 2017 Mary Brown’s opened their newest location at 6039 Erin Mills Parkway. As one of our supporters and sponsors in 2017, we got a chance to sit down and talk to the owners of this location, Atif & Ayisha.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Ayisha:   I was born and raised in Toronto, ON, spending most of my childhood in various parts of Southern Ontario.  In fact, I even lived on Windwood Dr, in Meadowvale in my early teens, for a short period of time. When I was a teenager, our family temporarily moved to Pakistan, where I finished high school and enrolled in a pharmacy program.  During this time, I met Atif, got married, dropped pharmacy and decided to move back to Canada. Today, we live in Streetsville and are the proud parents of our daughter Hana (16) and son Osman (9).

We both have had varied careers in the past. As a teenager, I used to work at my father’s pharmacy providing customer service and learning about business practices. I went on to work for a Marketing company before moving to RBC. After our son was born, I became a licensed real estate agent. This profession allowed me to become fluent in managing my own business and it also gave me the flexibility to have work-life balance, which is so important when you have young kids.

Atif has always been involved in the hospitality industry, having managed one of Pakistan’s top 5 star hotels and continuing his career in hospitality when we arrived in Canada. After the recession put the hospitality industry in a downward decline, Atif went back to school to study IT. Today, he is an Associate Director with Bell.

Why a Mary Brown’s franchise?

Ayisha: We both have a very large network of extended family and friends. As a mom with young kids, our past time became entertaining those family and friends at our home. We loved cooking homemade meals, grilling and roasting – summer or winter, rain or shine.

We realized, through this journey of our life, that making people happy through our love of food is our calling. We have a passion for food and service. Food is a common denominator which brings people together, especially when it is prepared and served with heart.  And this brings us in complete alignment with the Mary Brown’s philosophy of honest to goodness, made from scratch.

I’ve tried the chicken – I am fan of the Big Mary – and what I really liked about it was that it didn’t leave me with that ‘greasy food hangover’. What is special about the way in which the chicken is made?

Atif: Our chicken, burgers and taters are all cut, marinated and cooked in the store, fresh daily. Nothing comes frozen from the distribution centre. We ‘pressure fry’ our chicken using a technique known as ‘Broasting’. The method essentially combines pressure cooking with deep frying to pressure fry chicken that has been marinated and breaded. Other modern fast-food chains also deep fry chicken under pressure, but use different recipes or equipment from one of several alternative suppliers.

Internationally, broasted chicken remains highly popular in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Many restaurants and fast-food chains in these countries also have the word “broast” in their names.

Many of our residents were introduced to Mary Browns when you sponsored our Kitefest event this past September. Any message for our residents?

Ayisha: If you haven’t tried us out, please do so. If you have, we hope to see you again and next time, say hello. Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook to stay up-to-date with news and promotions.