As a long-standing fixture in the Beaches community in the east end of Toronto, Ajmala “Ozzy” Anwari describes his community’s support as “wonderful”. He’s seen great support from his community in terms of their patronship throughout the last 17 years while he ran a successful pizza franchise on Queen Street East, which unfortunately came to a screeching halt on June 28th of this year. He received an email late that evening warning him that the store had been broken into.
While there was no robbery or break-in per se, this troubling move was made by Mamma’s Pizza’s corporate office, who now run Anwari’s Queen Street East store, instead of him. They have now taken over due to Anwari’s refusal to comply with the terms that the company set forth. On the evening of the 28th, corporate office had come in and had the locks changed.
Anwari says that, rather than the 5 per cent royalty fee he is accustomed to paying, the new franchise agreement that was pending prior to the locks being changed demanded a 70 per cent increase in royalty fees.
The Boycott Begins
Outraged, Anwari began to set up a protest outside of the Queen Street East store along with his family and (former) staff. At present, they have been doing so for almost 50 days, holding boycott signs out on the sidewalk. Day in and day out, Anwari refuses to “go home”. He says that “outside the store” is where he feels most at peace, not at home. The store is where he has spent seventeen and a half years, opening it up at the age of 19 in 2004.
Anwari’s lawyers have given him the permission to stand outside protesting, holding “specifically these signs”, he says. They are signs that encourage the community to boycott the Mamma’s Pizza that was once “his baby” and is now being run by corporate office. According to Anwari, the community has been wonderfully supportive in the boycott.
“I am the longest-standing franchise owner in the company”, Anwari proudly declares with a smile. He believes that, rather than shutting him out in this way, the corporate office should utilize his success to demonstrate to new and potential franchise owners what a successful franchise ownership looks like.
If you were to observe Anwari’s protest on any given day at any time throughout the past six weeks, you would quickly notice his personability as well as the outpouring of community support that takes place. Folks give him fist bumps while walking past, drivers of vehicles honk their horns and cheer. This is what encourages him to keep pushing through.
“One day at a time”, he says.