Life after 53 years of poutine for the founder of Chez Ashton

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 that he found it difficult to “settling down” when he sold Chez Ashton to young entrepreneurs on March 2.

• Read also: The Chez Ashton chain sold to the owners of Ti-Oui

• Read also: Values ​​before money for Ashton Leblond

He was then at his residence in Florida, where GB2C business sales brokers contacted him to reassure him and finalize two years of negotiations. On March 7, the entrepreneur celebrated his 74th birthday with friends, filled with anxiety.

He was supposed to return to Quebec the same month, but he felt unable to do so, so he stretched the snowbird rubber band until May 30.

“Usually when I come back from Florida, I come back to the office on Monday. But there, I felt my freedom. It’s as if a weight had been lifted from me that I didn’t know I had. And I found my joy of living again!” tells the businessman, met in the Old Port of Quebec, a place where he likes to walk along the St. Lawrence River.

It took him another month to set foot in an Ashton and eat one of his famous poutines.

“I went there and no one realized it was me. I have become an ordinary guy and I accept it. I paid for my poutine for the first time in my life!” he says smiling.

Sell ​​to young people

Let’s admit that it must still come as a shock. Build a renowned brand and, overnight, fade away.

“I got more kudos for selling to young people than for what I’ve built in 53 years!” he said.

Over the years, he was approached by big players, like MTY, Normandin and even Tanguay. But Mr. Leblond wasn’t ready – he really wanted to spend 50 years of restoration before selling – and when the couple Émily Leblanc and Jean-Christophe Lirette wanted to buy, he let himself be persuaded.

Even that he sold the business below market value so that the area’s 33-year-old restaurateurs could get ahead. Already owners of Chez Ti-Oui, in Saint-Raymond, as well as three Harvey’s restaurants, the couple shared the same concern as Mr. Leblond for respecting employees and offering fresh local products.

Mission accomplished

Originally from the Eastern Townships, Ashton Leblond grew up in a poor family of 18 children and he “imported” poutine to Quebec in 1972. snack bar Ashton from L’Ancienne-Lorette, he invented his own sauce and made people discover it with cheese curds.

Nobody wanted his poutine, but he told himself that it would take as long as it would take, and that 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 tells himself that he has accomplished his mission and that there is another life ahead of him. He bought himself an electric BMW, a boat to sail on Lake Saint-Joseph and a chalet in the Eastern Townships to see more of his daughters settled in Montreal. He takes care of his rockeries and he lost 20 lbs while getting back into shape.

“I now live magical days,” he says, adding that he began his secondment two years before the sale. He told himself that he should go to his restaurants less often to learn how to live without them.

Ex-hockey player hazed US$288,000

Cheated by an investor who owes him US$288,000 plus interest, Ashton Leblond has lost hope of ever recovering his money.

“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, had met in Florida a man named Christian Gosselin, a hockey player drafted by the New Jersey Devils, who presented himself as an investor with a project to build modular homes in the States. -United.

“He came to my boat, he was nice and I invested in his project to help him. But he betrayed me!” laments Mr. Leblond.

Sentenced

Christian Gosselin did not deliver the number of housing units provided for in the project in collaboration with Perma-structures, and Mr. Leblond never received the 10% royalties on sales provided for in the contract.

In 2019, a judgment from the Superior Court of Quebec condemned Christian Gosselin to reimburse Mr. Leblond for his investment, but in vain.

Mr. Leblond also had the judgment homologated in Florida. Then, last July, spotted in Quebec by a Facebook post from his spouse, Christian Gosselin was forced to meet with prosecutors for Ashton Leblond, following a new procedure. However, this did not yield a positive result.

Mistrust

What shocks Mr. Leblond all the more is that Gosselin owes large sums to other investors, including seniors from Sillery.

Also, he invites people to be wary of the individual and to protect themselves before investing in any real estate project.

“Me, I would especially not want to relive a case of the same!” he says with emotion.

AT ASHTON

Year of foundation : 1969

Head office location : Quebec

Activity area : Catering

Number of employees : 650

PROFILE OF ASHTON LEBLOND

Job : Founder

Age : 74 years old

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