Breakfast Dads – Gary
Have you met Gary?
Gary has been leading the charge over at our Leaside (Laird Dr. and Wicksteed Ave.), Toronto Sunset Grill for the past five and a half years. He’s an analytical, strategic thinker who knows the value of hard work.
After hanging up his trader’s hat years ago and toying with the idea of opening a small business, Gary found himself having brunch with a friend at the Leaside Sunset Grill one afternoon. “I was caught up in between careers at the time,” Gary explained.
He and his friend were going over notes for a finance course, and as he looked around, the idea dawned on him that perhaps he could own and operate a Sunset Grill one day.
“I have always loved the brand from the time I tried the first Sunset Grill in the Beaches,” he shared. “I loved the ambiance and warmth of the place, and it planted the idea in my mind that it would be nice to own a Sunset Grill.”
Within a few months, he ended up following that passion and landed himself a Sunset Grill restaurant of his own. “I just didn’t know it would end up being this very one,” said Gary.
“I [also] liked the idea of the restaurant closing at 3:30 p.m. – which was great because it would mean I would be able to spend evenings with my daughter, Kennedy,” he shared.
Gary and his former partner Linda run a tight ship at the restaurant. Every team member knows their role and isn’t afraid to jump in where necessary. He attributes much of his success there to the work ethic of his dedicated employees and loyal group of regulars.
“We believe they are very happy working here because we work hard to support them in every way possible,” explained Gary. “We help everyone to ensure they are not overwhelmed, and we would never ask them to do something we would not do ourselves.”
Gary has worked hard to get to where he is. “Nothing was given to me,” he shared. “I had to fend for myself growing up.” He started working at the age of 14 and grew up in what he described as a rough neighbourhood. His grandmother was the shining light in his life.
“Her whole life was about sacrificing,” said Gary. “She was always there for me.” His grandmother ran the family farm back in China, raised three boys, while living through and surviving war and then immigrating to Canada and taking Gary in as her own. It provided Gary with an important perspective for the opportunities he was provided here.
“I want to teach my daughter to be responsible for herself,” he said. Gary even planned on writing a book for his daughter when she was born detailing the history of their family and what he described as the “secret to success in life.” He’s yet to dig into the first chapter, however, hopes to one day live out that dream.
Whenever Gary has some downtime, he enjoys playing hockey, watching anime, learning about history, emerging technologies, and staying current with financial markets. He’s also tinkering with the idea of creating his own medium- to long-term trading model to better manage his own money.
Some of his favourite moments, however, are spent with his 16-year-old daughter, Kennedy. “She’s always been such a good kid,” he said with a smile. They’ll often watch shows together such as Brooklyn 99, How I Met Your Mother or Stranger Things.
“Watching her grow up and seeing how she is a mature, responsible, and caring young woman makes me feel happy that I did something right,” he shared.
Looking to the future, he’s hoping to be able to peel back from the restaurant and enjoy some vacation time. He jokes that any time his family has tried to take a vacation in the past, something always foiled their plans.
He’s determined to one day make it to Japan.
For anyone looking to get into the restaurant business, Gary shared some wise words of wisdom, “be ready for anything and be flexible.”
“You need to understand the amount of work and time commitment involved. If you put in the hard work and time and be good to your customers and staff – it will all pay for itself in the end.”
The next time you’re in the Leaside, Toronto neighbourhood, be sure to stop by Sunset Grill and say hi to Gary and his wonderful team!
Go-To Breakfast: Three Eggs (Scrambled) with Sausage and Dark Rye Toast
Gary is part of this year’s Father’s Day profile series highlighting Breakfast Dads – the hard-working, dedicated dads that make up the many faces of the Sunset Grill community.
Laird Dr. & Wicksteed Ave.
45 Wicksteed Ave.,
Toronto, ON, M4G 4H9
Monday to Friday 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Saturday & Sunday 7 AM to 3:30 PM