6 longstanding Avenue Road businesses share the secret to their continued success

Beginning at Bloor and travelling all the way up to Bombay Avenue in North York, Avenue Road covers some serious ground  9 km to be precise.

The stretch is not only home to a handful of Toronto's finest parks and schools, it's also the site of some of the city's best designers, clothing stores and restaurants.

We chatted to some of Avenue Road's business owners to find out why they couldn't think of working anywhere else. 

Avenue Interiors
Mindy and Rick Gelman, Owners
1900 Avenue Road, 416-781-3005

What’s going to be hot this spring? The trend this spring will be a more relaxed look with colours such as violets, navies and rich emerald greens.

What has been your proudest moment in business? What makes us most proud is our client's loyalty to us for over three decades. 

What makes your business unique? We have such a wide range of products that we offer, and of course our customer service! 

Who is your inspiration/role model? Rick's father. 

Describe your team: Our team is a truly outstanding. We definitely wouldn't be able to do what we do without the team behind us.

How has the community changed since you opened? This community was an older generation and it has since been replaced by young families. 

What's your secret to success? Mindy, my wife. 

How long have you been in business? 32 years.

Eyes on Avenue Optical
Dr Nicole Theiss O.D. and owners Neda M. Zadeh and Mandy Wan
1947 Avenue Road, 416-787-2091

Describe your team: Our Optometrist, Optician and Frame Designer provide full eyecare to all of our clients through functional and fashionable optical solutions, ensuring our client's eyes are beautifully cared for. 

What makes your business unique? We are the only eyecare clinic with full services in upper Avenue village.

What's going to be hot this spring? The Pantone Colour of 2018 is Ultra Violet meaning dramatic colours, cat-eye and circular frame shapes are on trend!

What has been your proudest moment in business? Our proudest moment is when we see the Google Reviews shared by our beloved patients and clients. It gives us the most joy to know they are satisfied with our service, products, and experience at Eyes On Avenue. 

How has the community changes since you reopened? We truly believe in supporting our community and making this neighbourhood a better place. Since reopening in 2014, we have been involved with silent auctions, charities, and local events with SickKids, Armour Heights Public School, Children Healthcare Women, Loretta Abby High School, and UCC School. Through providing healthcare and local support, we fostered a stronger community. 

Kahnert's Furs + Outerwear
John and Dan Kahnert, Owners
2078 Avenue Road, 416-781-8472

What’s going to be hot this spring? Reversible lightweight leather jackets by Canadian designer HiSO.

Do you have any celebrity customers? Every customer that walks in the front door is a celebrity!

What has been your proudest moment in business? My brother and I were fortunate to be able to work alongside our father for over 15 years in the family business, where we learned how to run a successful business.

Greatest advice you ever received? Treat every customer with respect, and over time your reputation will spread by word of mouth.

What makes your business unique? Our fur and outerwear product mix is unique, and not readily available in many stores in Toronto. Customers love the selection and the family business approach to personal service. Plus we have the ability to restyle and alter fur.

What’s your secret to success? Work hard, but take the time to enjoy family and friends to the fullest. 

Hole in the Wall Clothing
Jeffrey Levine, Owner 
1866 Avenue Road, 416-792-1818

What's going to be hot this spring? Colourful floral shirts introducing Versace. Silhouettes are slimming down highlighting stretch fabrics in shirts, tee shirts and pants. Soft constructed sport jackets that can work and play for the office or after hours. Vests are back as an important accessory for every guys wardrobe, either finishing a suit with a third piece or dressing up a look with jeans.

Do you have any celebrity customers? Elton John's Brother-in-law and the former manager of the musical group Rush, Ray Daniels.

Greatest advice you ever received? Your reputation is the most important thing you have.

What makes your business unique? Unknown brands — remarkable quality — the best fit.

Describe your team: Our staff consists of myself, my long time associate Nina and our dedicated tailor Benjamin. Nina has 25 years of experience in the men's fashion industry and knows everything regarding wardrobe planning. Our tailoring is done professionally and timely as rush jobs are frequently possible.

How long have you been in business? I've been in men's fashion for 30 years.

Gary A. Stern Family Lawyer
Gary A. Stern, Owner
1938 Avenue Road, 416-780-0199

What makes your business unique? We offer a very hands on private setting for our clients. When it comes to dealing with all aspects of family law and divorce, an experienced family law lawyer is key for resolving issues in a timely and beneficial manner.

How long have you been in business? Almost 30 years of practicing family law only. We do one thing and we do it so it benefits the client. 

What is something every potential client should know? That family law although very emotional and difficult for clients and their families can be well supported and made more amicable by speaking to third party professionals like a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. By doing so family law lawyers can achieve better results and settle matters quicker for parties.

What is your favourite thing about practicing family law? Meeting people from all different walks of life and cultures and helping them with their individual needs, everyone is very different.

What is a recent milestone for your company? We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary at our 1938 Avenue Road location which is very exciting as it’s been a great home to the law practice.

Karbouzi Restaurant
Jim Kostantakos, Owner

Why Avenue Road? My parents started the restaurant. It’s a nice neighbourhood. They wanted to raise our family here.

What’s your fave thing about Avenue Road? It’s a great community. I’ve lived here my whole life. I live around the corner.

Coolest customer ever? Geddy Lee & Peter Donovan. Frank Mahovlich and other NHL, TFC & Raptors players frequently visit as well — it’s a big sports community!

What makes your business unique? We’re the only Greek restaurant on Avenue Road. We also have a bar on the second floor. It became kind of a local hangout.

How would you describe your team? We’ve had the same staff for years. Everybody gets along. It’s nice, like a little family.

What does your business do best? We try to make everything in house. All the old Greek recipes that I was taught from my mom.

Top selling items? The souvlaki dinners. 

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