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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report

Supporting Local Communities

Groupex Canada’s rebate program helps Chummy’s Grill stay busy and growing.

Manager: Ian Turpin | Groupex member since: before 2016 | Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Travel just east of the city of Sault Ste. Marie on Frontenac Street in the Rankin Community of the Batchawana First Nation and you can’t miss Noel’s Place, a popular local stop comprised of a convenience store with a drive-thru window and the very popular restaurant, Chummy’s Grill.

The busy operation that started as just a tiny shop on a gravel lot has continuously expanded over the years, originally adding a fish and chip truck, then a permanent building housing both a full convenience store and Chummy’s Grill, a full-service, dine-in operation seating 60 people, with a parking lot to match. The growth is attributable to two things: the quality of the relationships the employees have with the local community and good food that favours local ingredients.

Chummy's Grill

The food at Chummy’s is simple, delicious and generous with established hits like their fish and chips and weekly Fish Fry made with locally-sourced, whitefish, pickerel and lake trout seasoned and battered on site, “Macaroni and Tomato Soup” that is known and craved throughout the region, and “Indian Tacos”, made on a house-made Indigenous scone, and baked fresh daily. Chummy’s also offers daily baked goods including their legendary cinnamon rolls and bear paws, which don’t last long. “We’ve expanded three times since I got here in 2016,” says Ian Turpin, who manages Noel’s Place on behalf of the original owner, Noel himself. “Most recently to accommodate the parking for breakfast”, which has become one of his main draws for the portion size and the quality of the food. “During the week, we get a lot of business from local tradespeople for the breakfast, and sometimes we see the same people again for lunch on the same day.”

Ian attributes the resilience of Chummy’s throughout the pandemic to several factors. First, the community continued to support the restaurant during lockdowns, and second, their insistence on continuing to serve the same quality of food, even as prices soared. “When I started, Chummy’s was already using Groupex, and the Groupex benefit program only got more comprehensive during COVID, as the products got more expensive,” Ian recalls.  “There’s no way somebody like Noel would have been able to survive the combination of minimum wage and food price increases without Groupex’ assistance.”

Noel’s place is a family-owned business that draws roughly half of its employs from the Batchewana First Nation. Tracy has direct oversight of the restaurant operation as well as serving in the dining room herself five days a week. “She’s been here since day one of the permanent structure opening. She’s indispensable.” Now seating 60 people, the dining room is known for its growing collection of chainsaw carvings from BC artist Pete Ryan, which includes various plaques, eagles and even a sasquatch.

Chummy’s Grill, and restaurants like it, are meeting places that are crucial to community life. As prices increase and supply chain woes persist, supports like the rebate program from Groupex Canada provide not just a little cash back, but essential relief. “The rebate helps us manage through all of this,” says Ian. “When I started here, the minimum wage was $11.60. It’s going up again in October, which will push a lot of restaurants off the cliff. That rebate really, really helps to manage that and keep the doors open.”

Another aspect of the Groupex Canada service model Ian particularly appreciates is that, as new products are added to their rebate program, he doesn’t have to apply for rebates all over again. “If Groupex brings on new partners you’re buying from, they initiate the rebate on their own, he explains. I don’t have to call and ask for it. They make sure it happens automatically and that’s really helpful. None of their competitors even come close to what they offer restaurants.”

Groupex Canada

Established in 1984 by a small group of independent restaurants, today, Groupex is the largest foodservice account in Canada with some of the leading branded suppliers such as Pepsico, Diversey, Canada Bread and Gordon Food Service. Groupex uses the buying power of its national membership base to negotiate savings on essential restaurant supplies and services. Members save thousands of dollars on beverages, food, operational and financial programs.

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Menu Canada's Foodservice Magazine
The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report