The sweet taste of success: Canadian entrepreneur takes BMO along for the rollercoaster ride of owning your own business
Michael Lublin has always been passionate about the restaurant industry, starting his career as a high schooler washing dishes in Miami Beach, Florida. As a young and hungry businessman, Michael slowly rose up the ranks of several companies and held senior executive roles for some of Canada’s largest and best-known restaurant and franchise companies.
Outside of his full-time work, Michael pursued other business and creative ventures – always looking to grow and expand or find a new niche to cater to. After working his way to the top of the executive world in Canada, he took the leap to try out his own business as a solo venture – which ended disastrously after just two years. Feeling broken financially and spiritually, Michael had an emotional moment in the Toronto BMO branch manager’s office, crying his heart out at what felt like the ultimate failure.
However, the BMO employees were consoling and supportive and helped Michael see his own potential, even after a rough run at starting his own business.
“I stayed with the bank – and the bank stayed with me,” he says. He felt encouraged enough to get back up on his feet and try again, knowing BMO would have his back. He took his next idea of creating a chain of smokehouses and turned it into the Chainsmoker Urban Halal BBQ restaurant brand, with three successful stores in southern Ontario –and more on the horizon. Michael is proud that 10 franchises have been sold, and Chainsmoker will be entering the U.S. market in 2023. He says the growth is steady and the menu has become well-known, even outside of the Toronto area.
The meaty menu offers savoury cuts of brisket, sandwiches, loaded fries and more, catering to Jewish and Muslim communities with strict adherence to Halal, which includes compassionate methods of preparing animals to be eaten in which they feel no pain. As a Jewish man himself, Michael strives to build bridges between all kinds of communities – and this is just one of them.
Under his Chainsmoker brand, young aspiring entrepreneurs who work there can be a part of a program to learn the needed skills to become franchisees or business owners themselves.
“I believe entrepreneurship is the backbone of Western society and economy. It is one of the single greatest achievements an adult can have – being in business for oneself!” Michael says.
Through the ups and downs of the last few years – and the restaurant industry as a whole – Michael says he never wavered in his confidence of BMO. He credits the bank with the encouragement and support he needed to build strong businesses.
“The bank has always provided not just an ear to listen with, but a heart that shares the burden of a businessman’s ups and downs, literally on a daily basis.”
– Michael Lublin
Business owner and entrepreneur