Adonis’ story began when brothers Elie and Jamil Cheaib and their friend Georges Ghrayeb came to Montreal from Lebanon in 1976. Two years later, they opened the first Adonis – a small, 1,000 sq. ft. store in Montreal comprising just six departments: fruits and vegetables, meats, deli, groceries, olives and cheeses.
Between 1991 and 2009, the company expanded to four locations in Quebec. In 2011 – a banner year – Adonis opened its fifth store in Brossard, Que., and began a partnership with Metro Inc., completed in 2017, that resulted in several store openings, including locations in Ontario. At that time, Metro purchased a 55 per cent share in Marché Adonis and its distributor, Phoenicia Products.
Grocery Business toured Adonis’ flagship Ontario store on Ashtonbee Road in Toronto. We sat down with Éric Provost, Adonis vice president and general manager, to learn about expansion plans on the horizon for the Mediterranean market as it celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2023.
Adonis’ mission is to offer a unique and authentic experience to consumers looking for international products, by offering a wide range of fresh and quality Mediterranean products and distinctive services, the scope of which has always been very customer-driven, says Provost.
He explains that the first Adonis locations were stocked with primarily Lebanese offerings, reflecting the large Lebanese diaspora in Montreal at the time. As more and more customers heard about the market and as the markets expanded into new locations in Quebec and then Ontario, the demographics of the customer base shifted to echo broader Mediterranean cultures and customer requirements.
Not simply a grocery store, Adonis has always served as a meeting place and a source of nostalgia. Says Provost: “customers tell us every day that when they come to Adonis, the spices, the smells, the flavours, it’s like home.”
That sense of belonging and “home” is not exclusive to customers; Adonis is a place of belonging for its staff too – customers come in to engage with employees who speak their language(s) and to meet with one another. Adonis employs thousands of people from over 80 different countries, says Provost. He notes that demand for culturally relevant food and products has shaped much of Adonis’ expansion into Ontario. While he receives inquiries from places like Calgary, Edmonton, and Halifax, expansion plans are focused on Ontario for the time being. The planned trajectory for the Metro-owned Middle Eastern/Mediterranean grocery chain in the next five years is to reach 20 stores. Case in point: Adonis is opening its 16th location and its first in Southwestern Ontario in London in the summer of 2025.
Provost says innovation is what drives progress and continued success of the company.
Digitization and data are part of that story, and a new IT system has recently been integrated into all aspects of the business, from inventory control to order processing to data, cash management, distribution and e-commerce capabilities.
In addition to authentic grocery and CPG products, Adonis offers in-store pita production, hot meal and pastry takeaway counters, fresh fruits, salads, cheese and deli, fresh and seasonal produce, and meals and catering for the everyday and every kind of holiday season imaginable. The variety of holidays celebrated at Adonis mirrors the diversity of its customers and staff members.
Catering is a crucial and lucrative part of the business. The Adonis Ontario kitchen is led by head chef, Charbel, who has been with the company for over 10 years. He has shaped Adonis’ food and beverage program from its beginning. He explains that everything he does is rooted in excellence and value: “we have the best fruit, the best vegetables, the best quality product to work with.”
Provost is proud to be part of the Adonis story and the success it has achieved by offering unique, cosmopolitan, authentic experiences to customers through its vast range of Mediterranean products and distinctive services.