Parting with a business you’ve built and run for 53 years means cutting yourself off from a part of yourself. And Ashton Leblond admits he had a hard time “settling down” when he sold Chez Ashton to young entrepreneurs on March 2.
• Read also: The Chez Ashton chain was sold to the owners of Ti-Oui
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He was then in his Florida residence, where GB2C corporate sales brokers contacted him to reassure him and finalize two years of negotiations. On March 7, the businessman celebrated his 74th birthday with friends, full of anxiety.
He was supposed to return to Quebec that same month, but he didn’t feel able to, so he stretched Snowbird’s rubber band until May 30.
“Usually, when I get back from Florida, I go back to the office on Monday. But there, I felt my freedom. It is as if a burden has been lifted from me that I did not know I had. And I found my joie de vivre! ” tells the businessman, known in the Old Port of Quebec, a place where he likes to stroll along the San Lorenzo River.
It took him another month to set foot on an Ashton and eat one of his famous poutines.
“I went there and nobody noticed it was me. I became a normal guy and I accept it. I paid for my poutine for the first time in my life! she says smiling.
Sell to young people
We admit it still has to come as a shock. Build a renowned brand and, overnight, it fades away.
“I have more compliments for selling to young people than for what I have built in 53 years!” He said.
Over the years, he has been approached by great players, such as MTY, Normandin, and even Tanguay. But Mr. Leblond was not ready – he really wanted to dedicate 50 years of restoration before selling – and when the couple Émily Leblanc and Jean-Christophe Lirette wanted to buy, he was persuaded.
Although he sold the business below market value so that 33-year-old restaurateurs in the area could keep going. Former owners of Chez Ti-Oui, in Saint-Raymond, and three Harvey’s restaurants, the couple shared Mr. Leblond’s concern for respecting employees and offering fresh local produce.
Originally from eastern municipalities, Ashton Leblond grew up in a poor family of 18 children and “imported” poutine to Quebec in 1972. snack bar Ashton de L’Ancienne-Lorette, invented his sauce and made it discover with cheese curd.
Nobody wanted his poutine, but he told himself it would take as long as it took and the world would eat it! Six years later, things took off and Ashton’s poutine empire would eventually include 23 restaurants in the Quebec City and Beauce regions.
Today, Mr. Leblond is said to have fulfilled his mission and that there is another life ahead of him. He bought an electric BMW, a boat to sail on Lake Saint-Joseph and a chalet in Eastern Townships to see his other daughters settle in Montreal. He takes care of his rock gardens and lost 20 pounds as he got back in shape.
“Now I have magical days,” he says, adding that he began his posting two years before the sale. He told himself that he had to go to his restaurants less often to learn how to do without them.
The former hockey player confused $ 288,000
Cheated by an investor who owes him $ 288,000 plus interest, Ashton Leblond has lost hope of getting his money back.
“He must have spent that money! This world has no heart! ” launches the recently retired businessman.
In 2017, Mr. Leblond, then owner of Chez Ashton restaurants, met a man in Florida named Christian Gosselin, a hockey player enlisted by the New Jersey Devils, who came forward as an investor with a project to build modular homes in the United States. .-United.
“He came to my boat, he was kind and I invested in his project to help him. But he betrayed me! ” complains Mr. Leblond.
Christian Gosselin did not deliver the number of housing units envisaged by the project in collaboration with Perma-structures, and Mr. Leblond never received 10% royalties on the sales under the contract.
In 2019, a Quebec Superior Court ruling sentenced Christian Gosselin to reimburse Mr. Leblond for his investment, but to no avail.
Mr. Leblond also had the sentence approved in Florida. Then, last July, spotted in Quebec by a spouse’s Facebook post, Christian Gosselin was forced to meet with Ashton Leblond’s prosecutors, following a new procedure. However, this did not produce a positive result.
What shocks Mr. Leblond even more is that Gosselin owes large sums to other investors, including Sillery’s seniors.
Also, it urges people to be wary of the individual and to protect themselves before investing in any real estate project.
“I, above all, would not like to relive a case of the same!” she says with emotion.
Foundation year : 1969
Headquarters location : Quebec
Activity area : Catering
Number of employees : 650
ASHTON LEBLOND PROFILE
Work : Founder
Age : 74 years old