“That’s something you won’t find at Loblaws,” said Frank Yip, as he gestured toward the delectable-looking barbecued meats hanging behind glass at the deli. He’s right; though a staple in Chinatown, it’s a tantalizing display that might be unfamiliar to Toronto citizens used to a more typical grocery shopping experience. It’s also the perfect welcome to T&T Supermarket—the new best friend of Portlands-area foodies.
Mr. Yip, construction and engineering manager for T&T, was on hand to help welcome the countless eager shoppers streaming through the front doors. August 23 marked the grand opening for the latest incarnation of the increasingly popular supermarket chain, and the response was overwhelming. Though the store, located at 222 Cherry Street, wasn’t scheduled to open its doors until 11 a.m., enthusiastic crowds began to build in the parking lot as early as 8:30. Cherry Street isn’t exactly the most convenient location in the city, and given that this is just a grocery store opening, some readers will be wondering: what’s all the fuss about?
To shed some light, Torontoist spoke to Doug Horvath, head of Horvath Interior Design Inc. and lead interior designer for T&T.
“This is a really interesting thing that’s happening,” said Horvath. “T&T is a cultural phenomenon.”
It’s really not just another supermarket. Already well-known to food enthusiasts, T&T is famous for offering the selection, diversity of product, and prices found in Chinatown, and for combining those elements with a beautiful, inviting, and convenient grocery store atmosphere.
From its beginnings in Richmond, British Columbia, T&T has grown to include sixteen locations in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. The Cherry Street location is the fifth in the GTA, with successful franchises already established in Markham, Scarborough, Mississauga, and Thornhill.
Mr. Horvath, as animated and excited as anyone else on hand, related the story of T&T’s origins. The brainchild of CEO Cindy Lee, T&T began when Mrs. Lee grew tired of having to shop all over town to gather ingredients from various different ethnic Asian communities. So now, under one roof, T&T offers foods and cooking supplies from China, Japan, Korea, and most of East Asia. Along with the usual grocery store departments, you’ll find the aforementioned barbecue deli, a sushi bar, and a dim sum market complete with an adjacent outdoor dining area. There are even entire aisles devoted to ramen noodles.
And though T&T has always included the usual Canadian foods in its milieu, the savvy regular will notice that the Cherry Street location seems stocked with more of it than, for example, the Warden or Promenade Mall locations. When asked whether this was just a coincidence, Mr. Horvath had this to say: “Yes, I think this represents a shift. You’re going to start to see more things catering to Western shoppers, too. We want to have something for everybody.”
Photos by Jayson Young.