Breakfast Dads – Fasil
Have you met Fasil?
Fasil is the smiling cook you can find tucked away in the kitchen at our Kitchener Sunset Grill. He’s a meticulous, enthusiastic franchise owner and all around inspiration to anyone who’s hungry for success.
Fasil and his wife, Ayni, know the value of hard work. Their story begins back in Ethiopia, where they managed to find each other despite living in a world of chaos. They were both fresh graduates fleeing from the suppressive military regime and civil war that raged across the country from 1974-1991.
“[My wife and I] left on foot – from Ethiopia to Sudan on a separate route. Some of our friends got killed,” Fasil explains. “But by God’s grace we managed to cross the border and got into Sudan; it took me 53 days to get to Khartoum and three months for my wife. I worked all kinds of odd jobs and sometimes begged on the street. I got up in the morning, walked around the streets looking for any job and then begged. I spoke English at the time and in the end it helped me find a stable job as a maid for a German family and that’s [when] I met my wife and got married, in 1987. That’s how we got started.”
Their lives have never been the same since.
“All people go through hard times, you always have to remember that—don’t forget it—so you find somebody to help,” Fasil says with pluck. “Every person in the world has to give back; it is the best way to live your life.”
And give back they do. More than 10 years ago they started Manna for Kids Foundation, a charity that provides food, shelter, education, mentorship, healthcare, and clothing to more than 100 children in the Gewada region of Ethiopia. Many of these children are either orphans or have lost at least one biological parent and are being cared for by relatives or other caregivers. The registered Canadian charity just finished building a school that serves about 500 children and benefits a community of more than 100,000 individuals, and there’s more work planned. Every year they host a dinner to raise funds to support the cause.
They’re also involved in local charitable initiatives as well and host donation drives at the restaurant around Christmas. In the past, they’ve also partnered with the local Shopper’s Drug Mart who has provided them with toiletries and cosmetics, in which they then donate to the YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo.
Rewind to 2013, when Fasil and Ayni first took over the Kitchener Sunset Grill. “Never did I dream that I would be running a restaurant like Sunset Grill,” says Fasil. Like many of our franchisees, they enjoyed dining at the restaurant, believed in the concept, and were attracted to the one-shift operation model. They decided to take the plunge and put everything they had into Sunset Grill. It took, and continues to take a lot of hard work; however, they just keep growing and growing, Fasil says.
Fasil and Ayni have two sons – Jonathan, 26, and Joseph, 22. Fasil was and is a dedicated dad – when his sons were younger, he was working full-time, while also attending school to receive his Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation in the hopes of providing a brighter future for his children.
The value of hard work is a quality he’s instilled in his boys, that much is evident. Jonathan graduated university with a degree in Management and Marketing, and now works for the Bank of Canada. Joseph is finishing his final year of university, on-track to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering.
Fasil is a proud father. “Having two kids… it means a lot to me. When they were born, we were really struggling, but now we have one that is working for the government,” he says with a smile. “You look at this big guy, and that’s your son, and think of when he was just a baby.”
Even when he was working full-time and going to school, he always made time for his kids. “I’d run around with them, I’d take them to hockey, all these little things,” he says. Even now, Fasil feels it’s important for him to make sure his kids always do the right thing. “I gave them freedom, but I would always be there if they mess up.” As any good father would be.
They typically spend Father’s Day working at the restaurant – Jonathan likes to stay in the back, washing dishes and doing prep, while Joseph likes to work at the front greeting and chatting with guests. Fasil is just happy to spend Father’s Day doing what he loves with his family by his side.
“This is why I love this country. It’s open for everyone who works hard,” Fasil says with pride. “If you are honest and a hard-working person, you will make it through.”
The next time you stop by for breakfast or lunch at our Ira Needles Boulevard, Kitchener Sunset Grill, be sure to say hi to Fasil!
Ira Needles Blvd. & Highland Rd. W.
235 Ira Needles Blvd.,
Kitchener, ON, N2N 0B5
Open Daily 7 AM to 3 PM