Serving schnitzel, jam and a new life in Canada

Opportunity came a-knocking from across the Atlantic

For the Nagy family, Willowdale’s Honey Bear Hungarian Delicatessen started out as a ticket to a new life.

In 1997, Balint Nagy and his parents were living in Hungary when opportunity came knocking from across the Atlantic.

“This was an option that a family friend introduced to us,” said Balint Nagy, son of Balint Senior and Rita Nagy. “This was a means of living and it was something that could qualify us (to work in Canada).”

The Bayview and Sheppard Avenue area store, celebrating its silver anniversary this year, provides an assortment of imported European products.

Specializing in Hungarian food, some of their hearty eastern staples include a large selection of cold cuts, schnitzel, jams, and chocolates.

The Nagys, who had no prior experience in the foodservice industry, were shown the ropes by the couple who previously owned the deli.

“This business consists of two parts, the retail store and wholesale,” said Balint.

When his family took over the biz, they didn’t anticipate the growth of the wholesale business.

“We saw a significant demand (for the specialty foods),” he said.

Now, the business supplies other specialty food shops across Canada.

Running the shop hasn’t been easy, said Balint, who was in high school when his family moved to Canada.

“It has a lot of challenges but at the end of the day, I see a future in it.”

Balint now works full-time at the deli, and says his job requires a lot more than the standard 40 hours a week.

“Every day I am putting more and more time into the business,” said Balint, who is grateful for the hard work his parents did to give him a better life.

And Balint is looking to pass on opportunities to future families with a similar story.

“I feel that this business has the strength to be able to give a start to another family who immigrates to Canada.”

About this article:

By: Shannon Vieira
Posted: Apr 8 2010 11:36 am
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto