Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw, made a surprise visit at the grand opening of the latest T&T Supermarket on Oct. 26.
Weston joined T&T Supermarket founder Cindy Lee at the opening of T&T's third store in the Unionville section of Markham, a town just northeast of Toronto.
T&T, which is owned by Loblaw Companies, operates 22 stores nationwide.
Lee said the new store was inspired by the sights, sounds and tastes found in the bustling Asian street markets of Hong Kong.
The store's design features warm pastel colours and Asian-inspired patterns and billboards throughout.
Each department has vertical banners with Chinese characters representing the products in the section, said Lee.
The Unionville store is 50,000-sq.-ft. and has underground parking for 1,000, said Paul Ho, T&T marketing manager. "The underground parking is perfect for Canadian winters." In line with this, the store has a shopping cart escalator, allowing shoppers to transport their groceries to their cars.
T&T is the anchor tenant in the Asian mall that features 150 other retail tenants.
The store has well-known features found at typical street markets in Asia, which Lee said for many Asian Canadians the street market is a nostalgic experience and something they wanted to share with T&T shoppers at the new location.
Shoppers can watch fresh noodles and dumplings being made via a viewing window.
The store is the first in the T&T chain to sell hand-made cooked noodles and dumplings to go. Previous locations didn't offer cooked product, customers would have to take it home to cook.
The sushi department is also unique because it offers made-to-order sushi.
The opening featured a spectacular Chinese lion and dragon dances, and guests enjoyed a variety of traditional Chinese teas and hors d'oeuvres.
Ho said T&T intends to open two more stores in Vancouver in 2013-14.